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K-State Today

February 18, 2022

Feed the Future Innovation Lab for the Reduction of Post-Harvest Loss kicks off $1 million costed extension

Submitted by Mamadou Thiam and Jessa Barnard

The College of Agriculture's Feed the Future Innovation Lab for the Reduction of Post-Harvest Loss has received a costed extension from the U.S. Agency for International Development for a ninth year of program activities. This uncommon second costed extension for an innovation lab was awarded in recognition of the significant success the lab has realized in moving research innovations into scaling.

Two centers in USAID's Bureau for Resilience and Food Security joined forces to fund the extension: the Nutrition Center — which hosts the  Post-Harvest Loss Innovation Lab — and the Agriculture-Led Growth Center — the innovation lab's original hosting center. With this further support, the lab will continue the scaling of postharvest technologies and practices to reduce food loss, focusing on Ghana and Bangladesh.

The program will continue multidisciplinary research to glean insights and further refine scaling strategies to ensure innovations scale with inclusive benefits across the food system. Year nine will extend research and partnerships to propel successful technologies along the product life cycle and into sustainable use.

On Jan. 25 and 27, the Post-Harvest Loss Innovation Lab held a year nine kickoff meeting attended by partners, including strong engagement from eight colleagues at USAID. The annual meeting successfully catalyzed ongoing conversations with several of these USAID colleagues, focused on critical research and scaling considerations.

In Ghana year nine activities, the innovation lab will coalesce its eight previous years of work across the food system to galvanize linkages between smallholder farmers, poultry producers, private sector partners and other key actors to ensure sustainable reduction of postharvest loss issues beyond the life of the program. Specifically, this will include activities around expanded support to the Women in Poultry Association; further characterization of improved poultry performance with properly stored feed, a key adoption consideration; research and dissemination of elevated platforms to reduce aflatoxin accumulation in corn; adaptation of the Arc'teryx tent solar dryer; expanded engagement to address postharvest losses with resource-poor smallholder farmers in Northern Ghana; expanding relationships with key agricultural extension advisors of the Ministry of Agriculture; and supporting the mayor of Accra's plan to transform the urban food system to reduce food loss and waste. An already flourishing private sector partnership with Sesi Technologies, led by young entrepreneur Isaac Sesi and manufacturer of the GrainMate moisture meter, will continue to be fostered as the company grows to meet increasing market demand for low-cost grain drying technologies and general postharvest management.

In Bangladesh, year nine project activities will continue to be led by Bangladesh Agricultural University, with strong support from University of Illinois' ADM Institute for the Prevention of Postharvest Loss. Activities include testing and adaptation of a Post-Harvest Loss Innovation Lab-developed 12-ton rice mill dryer that the lab team adapted for high performance and capacity to dry both paddy and parboiled rice, which previously required two separate dryers. It is estimated that more than 1 million smallholder farmers will benefit from 25% of the nation's mills adopting this technology. To safeguard the national seed supply, trials of GrainPro hermetic cocoons will continue with the government's Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation. Given the importance of nutrient-dense perishables to nutrition, the Post-Harvest Loss Innovation Lab will work with Bangladesh Agricultural University to adapt the Arc'teryx tent solar dryer for perishable high-nutrient foods as well as grains, with leadership from K-State Olathe's Postharvest Physiology Lab.

Finally, a key part of why USAID awarded a ninth year, the innovation lab will continue supporting scale-up of the widely accepted Post Harvest Loss Innovation Lab BAU-STR dryer throughout the country. Of importance, the government of Bangladesh's national agricultural mechanization subsidy program will support local smallholder producers interested in purchasing a BAU-STR dryer.

Given the tremendous challenges and instability faced in Ethiopia, year nine will also enable the innovation lab to wrap up key activities, especially supporting graduate students toward completion.

Expert collaborators from across multiple disciplines and institutions will continue to contribute to this work. The project team will continue to be led by Jagger Harvey of K-State's plant pathology department as the primary principal investigator. Key leadership team members in year nine include George Opit of Oklahoma State University as the principal investigator of Ghana; Georgina Bingham, University of Nebraska-Lincoln ; and Eleni Pliakoni, horticulture and natural resources department, and Tricia Jenkins, postharvest specialist, both at K-State Olathe; Anna Snider, AgReach, international agriculture development specialist; Jisang Yu and Ben Schwab, both of the K-State agricultural economics department; Misty Lambert, North Carolina State University; and Jonathan Ulmer, K-State's communication and agricultural education department.

The Innovation Lab for the Reduction of Post-Harvest Loss Management Entity team provides further support and contributions: Jessa Barnard, assistant director; Catherine Hickman, fiscal analyst; and Mamadou Thiam, program coordinator. A range of private sector partners, both in the U.S. and in partner countries, will also be instrumental to the innovation's lab success in year nine.

The lab looks forward to additional partnership opportunities to secure a safe, adequate and nutritious harvest for all. 

This work is supported by the Post-Harvest Loss Innovation Lab with funding from USAID as part of Feed the Future, the U.S. government's global hunger and food security initiative.