A scoping review of interventions for crop postharvest loss reduction in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia

Tanya Stathers, Deirdre Holcroft, Lisa Kitinoja, Brighton M. Mvumi, Alicia English, Oluwatoba Omotilewa, Megan Kocher, Jessica Ault, Maximo Torero

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89 Scopus citations


Reducing postharvest losses (PHLs) of food crops is a critical component of sustainably increasing agricultural productivity. Many PHL reduction interventions have been tested, but synthesized information to support evidence-based investments and policy is scarce. In this study, PHL reduction interventions for 22 crops across 57 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia from the 1970s to 2019 were systematically reviewed. Screening of the 12,907 studies identified resulted in a collection of 334 studies, which were used to synthesize the evidence and construct an online open-access database, searchable by crop, country, postharvest activity and intervention type. Storage technology interventions mainly targeting farmers dominated (83% of the studies). Maize was the most studied crop (25%). India had the most studies (32%), while 25 countries had no studies. This analysis indicates an urgent need for a systematic assessment of interventions across the entire value chain over multiple seasons and sites, targeting stakeholders beyond farmers. The lack of studies on training, finance, infrastructure, policy and market interventions highlights the need for interventions beyond technologies or handling practice changes. Additionally, more studies are needed connecting the impact of PHL reductions to social, economic and environmental outcomes related to Sustainable Development Goals. This analysis provides decision makers with data for informed policy formulation and prioritization of investments in PHL reduction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)821-835
Number of pages15
JournalNature Sustainability
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020

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