A major challenge facing the postharvest community is that information on the scale and impacts of crop losses is sparse and very costly to generate. Supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, APHLIS+ is addressing this challenge by adding new crops and postharvest risk warnings to its existing mandate and offering data and information at a scale that would be impractical to obtain at the field level.
The international community does not have a single institution that specializes in collecting, analyzing and distributing information on postharvest losses and risks. APHLIS has come close for cereal grains but has yet to be recognized as the gold standard for loss assessment. To do so requires significant investment and a powerful resolve to underpin a global partnership that generates and promotes a broad range of loss information that is accurate, accessible and user friendly. This is the goal of APHLIS+.
In addition to a continued interest in cereals, APHLIS+ will take on pulses (common bean, groundnut, and cowpea), roots and tubers (cassava, yam and sweet potato) and banana and plantain. To do this, both the fundamental research to create the PHL profiles of the new crops is being conducted, as is the expansion of the APHLIS network of regional experts to ensure relevant contextual data is gathered. Due to the need to develop different methodologies for each crop, their loss estimations will be introduced stepwise - please register to receive notifications as new crops are introduced.
Postharvest loss estimates are currently expressed solely in terms of dry weight lost. Under APHLIS+ the necessary research will be conducted to add financial and nutritional loss estimates to the data provided, providing further contextualisation and making it increasingly actionable. Nutritional and financial loss estimates will cover losses stemming from quantitative losses (missing crops) as well as losses due to qualitative degradation (ie. a loss of nutrients in crops consumed, or discounted prices of crops sold).
Better data gathering and the adoption of modelling approaches will enable APHLIS+ to produce more detailed and accurate loss estimates. It will also allow APHLIS+ to generate risk warnings, in particular concerning aflatoxin contamination due to drought stress, and predictions of years in which there are likely to be outbreaks of large grain borer, a serious pest of stored maize. These warnings and predictions will be available on the APHLIS+ website as maps and alerts.
APHLIS+ generates loss metrics and risk warnings to support policy and decision-making on the best ways to reduce postharvest losses. As such, APHLIS+ needs to be accessible and closely connected to the postharvest community, e.g. through the FAO Community of Practice on Food Loss Reduction. In its role as an information hub, APHLIS+ also serves a wide agricultural and development audience and is a resource for anyone concerned with sustainable agricultural production. This has required the redesign of the APHLIS website architecture and user interface to support multi-stakeholder exchange and interaction. Under APHLIS+, all data and models will remain completely open access.
APHLIS+ is pursuing a multi-partner approach to achieving its objective of increasing awareness and understanding of the magnitude, location and key drivers of postharvest losses for a wide range of crops across sub-Saharan Africa. Ultimately, the goal is to enable strategic targeting of investment in postharvest loss management and mitigation and to support the ability of government and donors to coordinate interventions that increase the productivity of smallholder farmers. While APHLIS+ does not have the remit to provide advice and information on best practices regarding postharvest loss reduction, it will make links and partnerships with relevant initiatives where possible to further this goal.
To ensure the full confidence of its partners, APHLIS+ has a highly representative governance system, including:
APHLIS+ runs from 2015-2020 and is made possible by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation.