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By Diego Naziri, Arma Bertuso and Sara Gustafson

 Photo credit: CIP



The Food Security Portal and the PIM Value Chains Knowledge Portal teams are pleased to announce the awardee for a grant to produce a new e-learning course. Diego Naziri of the International Potato Center (CIP) submitted a proposal for an e-learning course aimed at training facilitators in CIP’s Farmer Business School(FBS) methodology.

FBS is an experiential learning model that aims to address constraints to effective market linkages by improving farmers’ business knowledge and strengthening farmer organizations. Trained FBS facilitators work directly with farmer groups to assist them in identifying market opportunities, conducting market assessments, developing new products, and forging stronger relationships with traders and other actors along the value chain.

Farmer Business School (FBS)

The impacts of these improved business practices are numerous. Naziri says, “FBS contributes to tackling poverty, improving livelihoods, and creating job opportunities that are more attractive to women and young people by strengthening the participation of small-scale farmers in value chains and building their capacity to respond to emerging market opportunities.” The methodology can also increase farmers’ resilience to shocks by helping them diversify their livelihoods. The FBS methodology was originally developed by researchers at CIP for use in root and tuber value chains but can be applied to any commodity, particularly ones that are locally produced and consumed.

FBS e-learning course

The proposed e-learning course will streamline the training process for FBS facilitators. At the end of the course and in combination with CIP’s FBS manual and other resource materials, facilitators will be able to properly implement and oversee the FBS process in the field.

Naziri says that building the capacities of FBS facilitators through a free online course will help open doors for the methodology to reach more participants. Currently, “ . . . only a small bunch of experts is highly familiar with the approach and has the ability to train the facilitators,” Naziri explains. The e-learning course will allow a broader range of participants to effectively facilitate and oversee the FBS process. Naziri is confident that this will lead to wider uptake of this important value chain development methodology which is an innovation that has been recently selected as Golden Egg by the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB) and also featured in the CGIAR@50 campaign.

 The FBS e-learning course will consist of three units and will include quizzes and a final exam. It will be accessible through the Food Security Portal E-learning platform at the end of 2021. The course will be complimentary and open to all as a public good. In addition, Naziri will be featured in an upcoming PIM-FSP webinar to highlight the course and the FBS methodology.


By Luciana Delgado and Sara Gustafson

 Photo credit: CGIAR



Reducing food loss along the entire value chain can play an important role in improving global and local food security. However, accurate, standardized definitions and measurements of food loss have proven elusive. Without being able to properly understand the scope of the problem, policymakers and researchers will find it difficult to enact effective policies to address it. Two recent studies from researchers at IFPRI, KU Leuven, and UN FAO aim to improve the way food loss are studied and measured in order to provide a clearer policy roadmap.

Food loss is important

Addressing food loss is important for several reasons. First, food security policies often focus on increasing yields and production, but policies aimed at reducing food loss are often less cost- and time-intensive. Second, reducing food loss can also improve the efficiency in the use of natural resources and help cut greenhouse gas emissions. Third, reducing losses along the agricultural value chain can boost producers’ incomes by getting a price premium for better quality produce and decrease consumers’ expenses by increasing available supply, with positive implications for poor populations

Innovative methodologies

A 2021 paper published in Food Policy combines traditional methodology and three innovative methodologies to better quantify food loss and identify how and where food loss occurs for different commodities and value chain nodes. A second paper published in Applied Economics Perspectives and Policy uses econometric modeling to measure food losses along staple food value chains. The research informing both papers expands existing definitions of food loss to include pre-harvest losses and includes losses in  quantity, quality and value. The work looks at food loss among producers, middlemen, and processors in staple value chains in six countries: potato in Peru and Ecuador, maize and beans in Honduras and Guatemala, teff in Ethiopia, Maize in Mozambique and wheat in China.


The new methodologies measure both quantity and quality losses and consist of the category method that classifies crops into quality categories; the attribute method that evaluates crops according to inferior visual, tactile, and olfactory product characteristics; and the price method that assumes that higher (or lower) prices reflect higher (or lower) quality. These three methodologies show larger food losses than the traditional aggregate self-reported methodology, because of the disaggregation of the elements behind the losses and because they capture both quantity and quality losses.  They also allow for important distinctions to be made among producers, middlemen, and processors. These distinctions could allow for more accurately targeted policies to address food loss where it actually occurs.

Losses are consistently highest at the producer level

Losses are consistently highest at the producer level: 60-80 percent of total losses and can be mainly attributed to the pre harvest stage. Losses at the middleman level, on the other hand, account for only 7 percent. Across both studies, pests, crop diseases, unfavorable climate conditions (especially low rainfall), and lack of mechanized harvest practices and appropriate storage facilities appear to be important drivers of food loss at the producer level.


Beyond these immediate micro-level causes of food loss

Both papers highlight the need to look beyond these immediate micro-level causes of food loss in order to effectively address the problem. More broadly, poor road infrastructure and lack of access to credit and financing also play an important role, particularly in rural areas and for small producers. In addition, demographics also appear to have a part in determining food losses. The research found that more educated and experienced producers appear to experience significantly less loss.

Targeted policies to address food loss

The extent of all of these factors varied by commodity, however. This highlights perhaps the most important finding from both papers: Policymakers and researchers need to continue to collect evidence-based information from specific value chains and at specific nodes in order to create targeted policies to address food loss. 



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