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NigAnnualConf14Post harvest losses occur in the fresh produce food chain and during processing. Estimates indicate that 30-40% of the food produced globally is lost during post-harvest or wasted because it is never consumed. Without these losses, sufficient food is produced to feed the world population, even when it reaches 9 billion people.

The development of the entrepreneurial capacities of small and medium-scale enterprises is important to manage and profit from waste management. Managing food losses and waste in less developed countries offers the potential to improve livelihoods, which can contribute to rural development, poverty reduction and food security. Over the past few years, the rise and expansion of integrated supply chains, and the renewed emphasis on efficiency and food safety, has spurred a major paradigm shift in the way the postharvest system, including processing is conceived, from a series of individual components to an integrated value chain linking producers, intermediaries and consumers. By adopting a value chain approach to postharvest loss reduction and managing wastes, a clearer picture of the various participants and benefits derived along the value chain emerges, so that sustainable and cost-effective solutions can be implemented.

Although technologies to prevent post-harvest losses, improve logistics and minimise food waste exist, they are often not used. A conducive policy environment and public services along with an actively involved private sector help to reduce the amount of ‘missing food’. The re-utilization of wasted food as feed or organic waste to produce compost or energy is still in its infancy. It was on this premise that the GRATITUDE Project (Gains from Losses of Roots and Tuber Crops funded by the European Union Framework 7) organized a side event at the 2014 annual conference and General Meeting of the Nigeria Institute of Food Science and Technology held on Monday 13th October 2014 in Lagos. The theme of the special session was “New Products to Reduce Losses in the Value Chain”.

Over 300 food professionals attended the special session from different sectors ranging from academia, industries, research institutes, private entrepreneurs, to CEOs of many food-manufacturing industries from Nigeria and abroad.

Papers presented at the conference include; Mushroom Production (Dr Oluyemisi Asagbra, FIIRO), High Quality Yam Flour Production (Dr. A.A. Adebowale - FUNAAB), Cassava waste to feed Goats (Dr. K. Adebayo-FUNAAB), High Quality Cassava-Tigernut Extruded Snack (Dr. Mojisola Adegunwa – FUNAAB), Fried Snack from Brewers Spent High Quality Cassava Flour and Wheat Flour (Dr. O.P. Sobukola - FUNAAB), Technology Improvement: Our Experience (Engr. I. Adeoya, CEO/MD, Nobextech), Food Entrepreneur (Dr O. Onuora, MD/CEO Chitis, Enugu) and Household Decision Making in Cassava Food Enterprises (Dr Petra Abdulsalam Saghir - FUNAAB).

The session underscores the need for all the novel findings and innovations obtained from the GRATITUDE Project to be made available to willing investors, entrepreneurs and/or SMEs to break the culture of research finding(s) hiding on scientists’ shelves in the University.

In his opening remarks, the project Country Coordinator, (Prof. Lateef Sanni), highlighted the achievements of GRATITUDE in the area of capacity development and mentorship to include; sponsorship of over 15 MSc students and 3 PhD students research work, and attendance at international conferences. Also, one of the GRATITUDE project graduate students (Miss Ifeoluwa Olootu) won the best Young Scientist Presenter Award at the 2014 World Food Congress organized by the International Union of Food Science and Technology (IUFoST) held in Canada.

Story by Dr. A.A. Adebowale - FUNAAB