According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, more than 40 percent of food losses occur at the post-harvest and processing levels. Post-harvest food losses tend to impact individuals living in developing countries the most, where more than 50 percent of harvested crops are often lost. With current projections from the United Nations estimating a population of 9.7 billion by 2050, the need to reduce post-harvest losses to feed the growing planet is imperative. In an effort to alleviate post-harvest losses, the World Food Preservation Education Foundation has issued an urgent need for scholarship funds to support students from developing countries to pursue MS and PhD degrees to help reduce post-harvest crop loss.
The nonprofit public charity has identified more than 100 qualified students and scientists in developing nations who are familiar with the causes of post-harvest food losses and motivated to reduce them. Contributing factors to post-harvest losses include food loss from harvesting, handling, processing, and production practices; weather conditions, transportation facilities, infrastructure, consumer preferences and attitudes; and availability of financial markets. Currently, only 5 percent of agricultural resources are invested in the post-harvest preservation of food versus 95 percent in food production. This results in a significant post-harvest “skill gap” and “technology gap” globally, especially when attempting to reduce post-harvest losses in developing countries. Contributions to scholarships for aspiring students and scientists from developing countries will provide a post-harvest education in the latest technologies for the post-harvest preservation of food. Additionally, students will conduct much-needed research on new post-harvest technologies.
Donations to the World Food Preservation Education Foundation will help provide scholarships and research funds for selected students and scientists to attend “sister” universities of the World Food Preservation Center and perform research on innovative post-harvest technologies targeted at reducing post-harvest losses in their home countries. Graduates are expected to return to their countries after completing their studies to establish independent and sustainable programs in research, education, and extension post-harvest. This specialized approach aims to be more long-term and sustainable than other programs that are dependent on outside experts from first-world nations.