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The African Union (AU) headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia will be hosting the 4th All Africa Postharvest Congress and Exhibition from September 19-22, 2023.

With the theme “Sustainable Postharvest Management: Boosting Intra-African Agricultural Trade and Enhancing Food and Nutrition Security”, the congress aims to address the critical issue of food loss and waste across the African continent.

This year’s theme acknowledges the vital role postharvest management plays in achieving sustainable food systems, food/nutrition security, and increasing trade within Africa.

The congress sub-themes that will be discussed include sustainable postharvest practices, innovative technologies for reducing losses, policies and strategies for loss prevention, and partnerships for scaling up solutions.

Close up of old farmer holding a basket of vegetables. The man is standing in the garden. Senior in a black apron.

Organizers expect to welcome approximately 450 attendees from various African countries, comprising farmers, researchers, policy makers, private industry stakeholders, and civil society representatives devoted to solving the challenges of postharvest management.

Food loss and waste (FLW) remains a major challenge in efforts to address food security in Africa. Recent reports show postharvest FLW in Africa remains unacceptably high, with losses estimated at 14 percent and waste at 17 percent, according to the FAO and UNEP. When combined, total FLW on the continent is approximately 31 percent – similar to the two thousand and eleven (2011) global estimate of 30 percent by the FAO. However, contrary to earlier reports, food waste occurring later in the supply chain between retail and consumption contributes more, estimated at 17 percent of total FLW in Africa.

To help  address these challenges, the congress seeks to raise awareness on the causes and impacts of food losses and waste in Africa. Effective measures, good postharvest management practices, and experience sharing between countries on loss reduction targets will also be highlighted. Strengthening expertise partnerships between governments, private sector and development partners aims to boost resource mobilization for loss reduction initiatives.

Over the four-day event, there will be plenary and breakout sessions covering various thematic areas. Plenary sessions will feature expert keynotes and panel discussions, while breakouts allow students/researchers to share their findings. Digital and physical posters will be on display for the duration. An interactive session is dedicated to poster presenters pitching their research/development ideas.

Innovative postharvest technologies, practices, and loss/waste reduction tools will also be exhibited physically and virtually throughout the congress. This provides opportunities to learn about and discuss the latest solutions with industry professionals and peers.

The engaging program aims to further knowledge sharing and networking towards the goal of boosting intra-African agricultural trade and food security through sustainable postharvest management approaches.

By the end of the program, the congress aims to raise awareness about the pressing issue of food loss and waste across Africa and showcase applicable solutions. It also seeks to demonstrate how efficient postharvest management can boost intra-African trade and food security sustainability.

Unrecognizable farmer in casual clothing carrying crate full of freshly harvested strawberries.

Another goal is to report on progress made by member countries toward cutting postharvest losses in half by 2025, as outlined in the Malabo Declaration, and recognize top performing nations.

Additionally, the conference aims to connect key players from government, technology, and agriculture to foster partnerships for tackling postharvest challenges. A ‘Call to Action’ communiqué outlining next steps and timelines is also expected. The congress will publish an abstract book and select papers in a special issue of a peer-reviewed journal to further disseminate findings.

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