WFP’s Zero Food Loss Initiative: Reaching 200 Million Farmers by 2030

March 19, 2019
Africa’s small-scale farmers lose up to 40% of all the food they harvest.

Why? Because of entirely preventable reasons, like insects, rats and mold. These post-harvest losses have a greater negative impact on Africa than conflict, HIV and malaria – combined.

Brett Rierson, the head of WFP’s Global Post-Harvest Knowledge & Operations Center, is trying to change that with big, blue plastic silos.  The locally-manufactured WFP silos can hold up to 925 pounds of dried beans, nuts or corn, and they are upending traditional farming for thousands of families.

Participants are trained on how to safely dry their crops and then store them in the air-tight containers. It’s a simple solution, and one that has dramatically improved their livelihoods, health and food security.

Today, 320,000 farming families across 16 countries in Africa are participating in WFP’s Zero Food Loss Initiative.

“These families are not aid recipients,” stresses Brett. “They made an active choice to fix one of their biggest challenges, buy hermetic storage, feed their families and then sell the surplus.”

More than half of the participants are women, and increasingly they are in control of their own and their families’ futures. Having the ability to safely store excess food at home has a massive impact on their socio-economic status, as they can control the price and time of the sale.

WFP Senior Program Associate Lucy Auma says:

“In the 1990s, because of war, thousands of children walked every night from the countryside into the main town to avoid being kidnapped and turned into child soldiers. These same individuals, now as adults, are the pioneers of the most promising development in African agriculture.”

But WFP has just begun. There are an estimated 200 million farming families in Africa, and WFP aims to have 50 million of them using silos within the next 10 years.

The cost: $3.27 per family.

The benefit: If only one-third of the lost food could be recovered, it would feed more than 870 million people.