Lost crops impact on local and global food security and trade. There is an urgent need for evidence to help prioritise research and policy in plant health. Despite this, data on the scale and causes of crop loss are sparse and outdated.
The Global Burden of Crop Loss will provide outputs, based on data, that will be communicable across sectors and geographies.
To ensure enough food is available for generations to come, we need to produce more food than we are currently. If we can reduce the quantity of crops lost before they reach the plate, then there will be more food for the growing world population.
It’s recognised that the impacts of biotic and abiotic factors on crop yields are significant, with around 40% of the world’s crops lost to pests alone. Huge investments are made each year on research and development seeking to reduce losses and improve production, but is it making a difference?
As Cambria Finegold, Global Director, Digital Development, CABI says, “If you are not measuring crop production well, then you don’t know if the extraordinary $25.8 billion spent annually on agricultural research and development is working, or if we are spending it in the right ways.”
Governments, donors and the private sector report the challenges of limited, inconsistent and unverified data that are undermining global agricultural policy and investment decisions, with the potential to reduce cop losses and increase food security.
“…We need packaged information and evidence to convince policy makers of the demand and need to address the issues at farmer level. Agricultural contribution to GDP is reducing so the need to make the case is even more important. The evidence needs to communicate the risks and impact on the economy.” Ministry of Agriculture, East Africa
“…We have no sense of relative loss of difference diseases, one against another. Loss assessment is done for a singular problem, comparisons are difficult. It’s and information desert.” Foundation
Developing a data driven system to describe the scale and causes of crop loss
By working with cross-sectoral partners the initiative is collating and validating diverse datasets and developing a methodology that will produce rigorous estimates of the scale of losses and the burden that they cause so that…
The Global Burden of Crop Loss initiative was born out of an 18-month, Bill and Melinda Gates-Funded Grand Challenges Call to Action project which scoped the need for rigorous crop health metrics, assessed the data landscape and evaluated potential analytical methodologies.
Having identified a clear need and investigated the available data sources and technical potential for establishing the methodology in order to make the calculations, we are now founding a research collaboration network to make the concept a reality. In 2021 we are working with these partners to develop a full methodological protocol leading to an initial proof-of-concept set of estimates on maize losses.
From there we will be fine tuning the protocol and expanding the scope and scale of the estimates to cover more of the world’s most important crops.
Global Burden of Crop Loss