Food & nutrition

This food sector in low-income groups represent a market value of $ 2895 billion (The Next 4 Billion, IFC/WR). In most developing countries the percentage of the total workforce employed in agriculture is more than 70%. Small scale farmers grow their own food and have some income of the surplus. Post-harvest losses at farmer level are a big issue.

Agricultural processing is sometimes used to increase shelf life, or for transformations into higher value added products. Urbanization increases the need for processed food. There is a need to improve the handling, grading and processing of crops at farmer (cooperative) level. Opportunities for product innovation can be found in off-grid cooling and storage, multipurpose processing equipment, autarkic energy or waste-to-energy conversion. The dominant view is that the issue is not the (un)availability of appropriate technology, but the (dis)organization of the value chain from farm to fork. Many NGO’s are working on organizing value chains, business oriented towards markets and customers. Mobile phone technology increases transparency in the agricultural value chain, for producers and consumers alike.

The main impacts of agricultural processing are food security, food safety and health, economic and environmental. Globally, nearly one billion people go hungry and 2 billion people are micronutrient malnourished (FAO). Diets of people living in poverty are more carbohydrate-based (e.g. maize, rice, sweet potatoes) because of price considerations. There is a lack of affordable proteins, vitamins and minerals. The food demand will grow in the future with 70% by 2050.


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