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3 Problems Facing the Food Supply Chain

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A food supply chain is the journey food takes from where it’s grown to where it’s consumed. Typically, the chain is made up of six processes:

  • Assembling raw materials.
  • Production.
  • Processing (Branding and packaging).
  • Storage.
  • Distribution (wholesale and retail).
  • Consumption.

These different processes are handled by various key players in the food supply chain such as farmers, manufacturers, distributors and others.

If there is an error during any of these stages, the final product could be affected and the consumer might end up taking food that is below safety standards.

According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 1 in 10 people fall sick every year from eating contaminated food. Therefore a problem in the supply system might be detrimental to one’s health.

Below are three problems facing the food supply chain and some suggested solutions:

1. Lack of Traceability:

Nowadays, many people are curious about the origin of their food. For instance, a lot of people like to know the exact ingredients that constitute their meals to be sure it meets up with their diet plans/dietary intake.

In 2012, a study in Europe revealed that 70% of consumers consider the origin of their food as an important factor when purchasing it. Food traceability is important because it has three key benefits:

  • It improves quality control.
  • It increases supply chain visibility.
  • It reduces risk.

Nonetheless, the food supply system is still not as traceable as consumers would like it to be.

Also Read Interview With Sanne Steemers, A Dutch Chocolate Entrepreneur Connecting Europe And Africa

Solution:

Keeping a record of the food journey from production to consumption not only helps companies guarantee the authenticity of their products but also helps suppliers spot and react quickly when issues arise.

It also helps companies to build their customer base, loyalty, brand, and can be a saving grace in the events of legal issues.

Some practical ways to increase food traceability is by:

  • Implementing tracking systems and software.
  • Creating alert systems to notify key players when things go wrong.
  • Communicating with the customers.

2. Poor Storage and Transport:

Poor storage and transport is one of the biggest problems in agriculture and it often leads to food wastage. In the food supply chain, the problem also affects the quality of food.

If any of the key players compromise food quality and they don’t detect it early, the consumer can end up eating this unsafe food.

The goal is to produce and distribute high quality products that are safe for consumption and there are some practical measures that can be taken towards achieving this.

Solution:

If you compromise one step, you will one step is jeopardized, it will compromise the entire process. To solve this problem, the first step is to select the best raw materials and use the right production method to see the process through.

Use adequate storage equipment to store feed in order to keep it fresh and healthy. Also, when branding and packaging the food, manufacturers should do it in a way that they preserve the freshness and safety of the food.

3. Lack of Trust and Communication Between Key Players:

No chain can function well if there is ineffective communication between key players. Improper communication causes a rift in the food supply chain.

Nearly every food item passes through many hands before it gets to the final consumer. It is sometimes hard to keep track of all the people involved in food production.

For instance, a plate of salad consists of different vegetables. Each of these vegetables (cabbage, lettuce, spinach) were planted in different places and go through various hands in order to get to the consumer’s plate.

Solution:

Thankfully, technology has made it easier to communicate. To encourage transparency and increase effectiveness in the food supply chain, there should be a clear channel of communication among the key players.

What other problems can be encountered in the food supply chain? Let us know in the comment section below.

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Agriculture

In Morocco youths are making money from agriculture with the support from the African Development Bank

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In Morocco, the African Development Bank has helped thousands of young people towards a new future in agriculture.

Abdelhak Boukhari, a young farmer said he learned farming from his father. “I started in this area in 1995 when I was very young. It was really difficult at first because I didn’t have any land; I didn’t have anything. I shared a plot with other farmers and after that I started renting land. It was then that I really got into agriculture as a career,” said Boukhari.

At the age of 40, Boukhari, who grows strawberries for export mainly to Europe and North America, struck out on his own. Now, thanks to improved farming methods, he has become an entrepreneur and has leased more arable lands and modern equipment.

“I really feel like a champion, because my father had only one or two workers, but I now have between 40 and 50. Thanks to God, I have a lot of equipment: the tractor for ploughing, agricultural machinery, greenhouses, and drip-feed irrigation. I really do have modern tools at my disposal,” he said.

Also Read: Farmcrowdy Acquires Meat Processor, Best Foods, Set To Launch Retail Meat Hubs Across Nigeria

Other young farmers, like Hicham Mokadem, 30, share similar testimonies.

Mokadem, 30, is an agronomist. He went into berry production in Laouamra, in north-west Morocco and exports the bulk of his produce to Europe.

“It is a 15-hectare farm and I decided to invest in soft fruit because it is a growth sector,” said the young agronomist. “I’m confident and I’m not on my own,” he added, referring to the thousands of young people flocking to farming , motivated by Morocco’s new agricultural policy, ‘the Green Morocco Plan’ (PMV).

Launched in April 2008, the PMV aims to make agriculture one of the first sectors of productive development and to modernize it. It also intends to promote agricultural investment, ensure food security, stimulate exports of agricultural products, and promote local products.

Since its inception, this project has received more than 500 million euros from the African Development Bank through the Green Morocco Plan Support Programme (PAPMV).

“A 30% increase in agricultural yield, a 40% decrease in water usage and a 45% increase in agricultural earnings. These have been the outcomes of the Green Morocco Plan which we have been supporting since 2008,” said Bank resident representative for Morocco, Leila Farah Mokaddem.

Young Moroccans such as Boukhari and Mokadem demonstrate the Bank’s success in transforming livelihoods under its High Five development priorities: Feed Africa, Industrialize Africa, and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa.

African Development Bank

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Agriculture

Important Food Habits You Should Adapt This Year

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food production

It’s a new year and while you’re writing up your new year resolutions, we hope “contributing to food security” is one of them. If it isn’t, there’s still time to add it.

One of the biggest threat to food security is Food loss and waste (FLW). According to the FAO, approximately one-third of all produced foods (1.3 billion tons of edible food) for human consumption is lost and wasted every year across the entire supply chain. When food is wasted, the resources such as water and nutrients which were used to produce that food, are also wasted.

With numbers that high, it might seem like adapting the food habits which will be discussed later in this post will not solve affect anything. However, if we all make our own little efforts from our various homes, the results might surprise us.

Shop Smart: Have you ever found an old banana you bought rotting out in the fridge because you bought it and forgot about it? Probably. 

Shopping is not easy. Sometimes we end up buying and forgetting about the existence of what we bought, sometimes we end up buying more than we need, or sometimes we don’t buy enough. To be a smarter shopper, it is important to not only make a shopping list, but to stick to it. This will help reduce impulse buying which could lead to food waste.

Shopping smart also means knowledge of that buying in bulk may not always be smart. You might be certain of what you will eat next Monday but by next Monday, someone takes you out for a meal and what happens to the food produce you bought ahead of Monday? It could go to waste.

The reality of life is that plans change and purchasing food items against the unforeseeable future could lead to waste. You could easily see an advert for a nice meal which could cause you to change your plans to cook dinner. What happens to the food produce you had already bought? It could go to waste. 

Also Read: Building Sustainable and Profitable Enterprises: An Interview with David Owumi, Founder of VisionCTRL Africa

A study conducted by Victoria Ligon of the University of Arizona to understand how people acquire, prepare, consume, and discard food. She tracked shopping and food preparation patterns and her results confirmed that bulk-buying too often leads to food waste.

“To me, the big-picture finding is that while this meal planning helps us psychologically feel less stressed about all of the home tasks we have to manage, it is not easy to execute. In the end, it results in inefficiency and waste because food is perishable.”

  • Victoria Ligon.

She also explained that the rapid increase of fast food has created more food options. This has caused people to change meal plans without notice. This could cause the previous meal plan to go to waste if products had already been purchased for it.

These are some key points you should take into consideration when shopping so you can make smarter decisions.

Pay Attention to Expiry Dates: You might feel justified throwing out food because it is expired.  However, this doesn’t have to be the case. You don’t have to wait till the food expires before you take action.

Another reason why buying in bulk should be discouraged is because we are humans and sometimes, we forget. Purchasing canned food in bulk can also lead to expiration and eventual wastage.

One of the ways of curbing this is by creating a “last in, first out” system in your refrigerator. This means that the last thing you put in should be the first thing out. That way, nothing overstays its welcome in the fridge. You should also use this system for expiry dates. The foods closest to their expiration should be used up before the ones whose expiration is still far off.

Which of the above listed habit will you be adapting? Let’s know in the comments section below.

By: Uduak Ekong of Farmcrowdy

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Agriculture

Elnefeidi Group Secures African Development Bank $60 million loan To Boost Agriculture

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The African Development Bank’s Board of Directors has approved a $60m loan to Elnefeidi Group Holding Company to help finance its long-term agriculture and food expansion programme.

The planned expansion includes increasing agricultural productivity, enhancing related infrastructure, food processing and distribution. It will directly contribute in developing Sudan’s livestock value chain (poultry and beef) by increasing the country’s export capacity for value-added livestock products. This will help reduce the economic value that the country loses by exporting millions of live animals each year.

Also Read: Interview With Deborah Ogwuche, Founder Of Food Channel Africa

“Agricultural transformation is one of the Bank’s top five strategic priorities and the Bank is delighted to have identified a viable private sector actor like Elnefeidi Group which has a proven track record and through which we can channel the Bank’s support” said Atsuko Toda, African Development Bank Director for Agriculture Finance and Rural Development.

The loan is expected to contribute significantly to food security, food import substitution, and household incomes by creating jobs and increasing local productivity and distribution by over half a million metric tonnes each year across several countries. Elnefeidi Group employs over 1,842 people and has distribution networks covering North, East and Central Africa.

 “This approval to Elnefeidi Group is another demonstration of the African Development Bank’s continued support and strong commitment to enable, deepen, and empower the private sector in Sudan, as an engine of economic and inclusive growth,” said Raubil Durowoju, the Bank’s Country Manager for Sudan. “This is also consistent with Sudan’s National Agriculture Investment Plan, which seeks to achieve agriculture-linked growth, largely through private investments.”

Sudan is widely considered to hold immense food production potential. Sixty-three percent of its land area is classified as agricultural, and its competitive advantages include: a promising demographic profile, projected growth in household food demand, and proximity to a range of markets in Central Africa, North Africa and the Middle East, many of them food-deficit countries.

African Development Bank

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