A third of all food produced globally is wasted. Up to 40 percent of that food waste is produced by developing countries. Great quantities of food are lost for various reasons such as inadequate harvest techniques, poor post-harvest management and lack of suitable infrastructure and marketing. However, the waste is mainly due to inadequate cooling facilities as well as lack of efficient transportation equipment. Modern technology has allowed solutions to fix these problems and decrease the amount of food being wasted.

Listed below are five ways technology reduces food waste in developing countries.

  1. The lack of access to cold chain technology is one of the reasons food waste is abundant in tropical areas. For example, even though India is the top leading producer of bananas, it only holds 0.3 percent of the world’s market. Some of this gap can be attributed to lack of refrigeration and reliable energy sources. By providing a better system of refrigeration, the food loss would be cut by 25 percent.
  2. Improving packaging to maintain freshness of products during transportation and decreasing the number of insects found would also greatly reduce food waste. An example of such technology is the Modified Atmosphere Packaging. This technology increases freshness by substituting the atmosphere within the packaging system with a protective gas mix, usually consisting of oxygen, carbon dioxide and nitrogen.
  3. Technologies have been created to convert food waste into renewable sources of energy. This is done through the use of anaerobic digesters that break down the waste into large amounts of carbon which can then be converted into biogases or organic fertilizers. This process preserves the nutrients from the food and recycles the nutrients back into the farming system as a clean energy source.
  4. Increasing communication during the transport chain increases overall product awareness. For example, Israel has developed the Xsense system, which uses wireless sensors to monitor storage conditions second by second. The technology is able to identify problems in the transportation process and allows for supply-chain management to improve any problems sensed.
  5. Microfinancing initiatives that invest in small-scale farmers can greatly alleviate the waste load. Through education of how food waste occurs and what is being done to prevent it, small farmers can gain a better grasp on the solutions being implemented. Educated farmers can greatly benefit from increased access to waste-reducing technology and equipment.

There are many ways technology reduces food waste in developing countries. Implementing such technologies can not only reduce waste but give developing countries an opportunity to flourish and thrive.

Taylor Elgarten

Photo: Flickr