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New $130 million project aims to cut food waste from fields to tables

Thomson Reuters Foundation

More than a third of the world’s food goes uneaten, and many crops harvested in Africa are discarded rather than sold, according to an initiative announced on Thursday by the Rockefeller Foundation to cut food waste and loss by half.

The seven-year, $130 million project aims to tackle food waste from crops in the fields to dinner tables in industrialized nations, the foundation said in its announcement at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

Sub-Saharan Africa will receive much of the initiative’s resources, the foundation said. In Kenya, Nigeria and Tanzania, up to half of some crops are lost due to inefficient harvesting, storage, processing and time to market, it said.

“The amount of food lost or wasted before it ever reaches a table is simply unacceptable, with devastating impacts on people, profit and planet,” said Judith Rodin, president of the Rockefeller Foundation, in a statement.

Enough food is grown to feed the 1.2 billion hungry or undernourished people worldwide, but a third is never eaten, according to United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization figures cited by the foundation.

That lost food is worth about $1 trillion, according to the FAO.

The initiative, called YieldWise, aims at cutting food waste and loss in half by 2030, the Foundation said.

Last year, the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama also announced a goal of reducing food waste by 50 percent by 2030.

In France, legislators have banned big supermarkets from destroying unsold but edible food.

The foundation said it is counting on partnerships with food giants Coca-Cola Co. and Dangote Group to help small farmers bring produce to market.

Training at mango farms in Kenya, maize farms in Tanzania and tomato farms in Nigeria is already in the works, the New York-based philanthropic organization said, to teach farmers such skills as the use of crop-preserving technologies and strategies against crop loss.