APEC delegates identify ways private sector could assist in reducing food losses

September 29, 2015 5:02 am 

ILOILO CITY, Iloilo, Sept. 28 — Agricultural officials and industry representatives from around the Pacific Rim have identified two aspects in which the private sector could assist Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member economies in reducing post-harvest losses in all stages of the entire food supply chain in the Asia-Pacific region.

First is loss assessment, a research fellow at the Academia Sinica in Taiwan, Ching Cheng "Emily" Chang, told a media briefing here Monday on the sidelines of the 19th APEC Agricultural Technical Cooperation Working Group Meeting.

"We know the challenge we have for this region to do this kind of assessment, part of the reason is for the data computation," she pointed out. "The supply chain in this region is rapidly changing and transforming, it is very difficult to track, and keep good tracking records, and also without building the trust with the government, it is very hard for the private sector to release this information, so this is one aspect that the private sector can provide useful information for the government to make the right decision."

Second is loss reduction, Chang said. In this aspect, she explained that the private sectors need support from the government in terms of infrastructure.

"When in the post-harvest practices, especially the cold chain where a lot of energy is consumed, if you don't have good infrastructure and energy support system, it is very difficult for private sector to play along."

In addition, Chang said the private sector could also provide a good business model, "so that the old player of the supply chain can survive and can have a win-win situation".

On Sunday, the workshop, “Strengthening Public-Private Partnership to Reduce Food Losses in the Supply Chain of Fishery and Livestock” was held here as part of a project designed to be implemented in three phases within five years.

"This is a five-year project," Chang said. "The first year, we focused on grain and crops; the second year, vegetables and fruits; this year on fishery and livestock."

Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization Executive Director Rex Bingabing pointed out that there is a difference between the products of the livestock and fishery sectors and other commodities of the agriculture sector.

Bingabing said such commodities as grains, fruits and vegetables have clear figures on losses based on a huge number of studies undertaken on losses along the different value chain. These studies have enabled them to identify where the losses are coming from for other commodities.

For the fisheries and livestock sectors, he said the focus of the government is more on increasing their production.

"We are not looking yet at the losses along the value chain of fisheries and livestock," Bingabing explained. "It is more on increasing production but not yet on looking at really the different activities among the value chain."

He said the workshop on Sunday was an "eye-opener" for the representatives of the livestock and fisheries sector that they should start looking at the complete value chain and identify the losses incurred on this activity.

"The problem with fisheries and livestock is that we only have a rough figure, and there has not been too much study really on the losses," said Bingabing. "This was actually emphasized during the workshop yesterday (Sunday). We were dealing with these figures but these are just rough estimates. And we don't know exactly where along the value chain these losses really are coming from, so we have to identify first where these losses are really coming from. Is it from during the harvest? During the processing of the transportation? We have to identify what particular losses come from these activities, so we can clearly address the issue. So that is the problem with the livestock and fisheries." (PNA)

RMA/PND-APEC COMMUNICATIONS GROUP/SSC

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