Prof. Jane Ambuko
Prof. Jane Ambuko is an Associate Professor of Horticulture at the University of Nairobi, Kenya. She holds a BSc in Agriculture, MSc in Horticulture from the University of Nairobi, Kenya and a PhD in Agricultural Sciences (Pomology and Postharvest Major) from Tsukuba University, Japan. Her area of specialization is Postharvest Management in perishable food crops. Her research, training and outreach initiatives focus on food loss and waste reduction through application of innovative technologies for postharvest quality preservation and small-scale processing. Prof. Ambuko works closely with smallholder farmers in outreach programs to disseminate knowledge on good postharvest handling practices and technologies to reduce postharvest losses. She is a champion for food loss and waste reduction towards food and nutrition security in sustainable food systems.

About the 3rd All Africa Postharvest Congress & Exhibition and the Special Issue

Postharvest food loss and waste (FLW) reduction is critical in a world where one in five people face hunger, while 30 percent of the food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted annually. When food is lost or wasted, all the resources used to produce it, including water, land, energy, labour, and capital go to waste. In addition, the disposal of wasted food in landfills leads to greenhouse gas emissions, thereby contributing to climate change. Therefore, FLW reduction is a key element in the efforts to realize food security and nutrition in sustainable food systems and has become a subject of interest at the global, regional, and national levels. At the global level, FLW is enshrined in the sustainable development goals (SDGs). Specifically, SDG 12 on responsible consumption and production wherein target (12.3) calls for halving per capita global food waste at retail and consumer levels and reducing food loss along production and supply chains, including post-harvest loss, by 2030. At the Africa regional level, African Union Heads of State and Government included in the 2014 Malabo Declaration a call to reduce postharvest losses by 50 percent by the year 2025.

As part of the efforts to raise awareness about FLW, the All-Africa Postharvest Congress and Exhibition (AAPHCE) was conceived. The primary objective of the AAPHCE is to create awareness about FLW and showcase sustainable solutions in the African context. The Congress also provides a platform to network and establish partnerships for research, outreach, and investment initiatives toward food loss and waste reduction. The biennial convening was first organized and convened by the University of Nairobi in partnership with other institutions in 2017. The convening was subsequently handed over to the African Union Commission (AUC) at the 2019 convening of the 2nd AAPHCE to ensure a continental presence and continuity. The 3rd AAPHCE was convened by the AUC in September 2021 with technical support from various academic and research institutions under the leadership of the University of Nairobi and the University of Johannesburg.

The theme of the 3rd AAPHCE was ‘Postharvest Loss Reduction for Sustainable Food Systems’ and was unpacked into 6 subthemes as follows:

  1. Causes, Extent and Impact of food loss and waste – the metrics (data) and tools for FLW
  2. Saving Africa’s harvest during and post COVID-19 Pandemic – lessons learnt, opportunities to strategize for future natural disasters and pandemics
  3. Innovative technologies, tools, practices and training/capacity building to reduce postharvest losses in food supply
  4. Trade, business and economic transformation opportunities in postharvest
  5. Financing postharvest loss reduction initiatives; Business Cases/Models in postharvest loss reduction; Innovative financing mechanisms for upscaling postharvest
  6. Enabling policies, effective national/regional strategies, experience sharing, Collaborating, Learning and Adapting (CLA)

The call for abstracts aligned to these thematic areas attracted 234 abstracts that were subjected to a peer review process. Authors of the accepted abstracts were requested to submit full-length papers to be published in a special issue of the African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development (AJFAND). This special issue contains the first batch of papers from the 3rd AAPHCE. A second batch will be published in a subsequent issue of AJFAND.

I wish to thank the AUC for mobilizing funds that made the 3rd AAPHCE convening and this publication possible and the technical committee for the scientific input. On behalf of the 3rd AAPHCE organizers, I would like to thank the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) for co-financing the publication of this special issue. I am also grateful to AJFAND for hosting the special issue of the 3rd AAPHCE proceedings.

I congratulate the 11 authors (and their co-authors) for the effort to submit their full-length papers in time for publication in this special issue. I hope that the readers of the publication will find it useful and informative in their efforts to address the challenge of high postharvest losses in food supply chains.

Prof. Jane Ambuko
Chair, Technical Sub-committee
3rd All Africa Postharvest Congress and Exhibition