While increasing global population levels demand concomitant increases in food production to satisfy nutrition and food requirements – that is, to ensure food security – currently a large proportion of the food produced is not reaching consumers; an estimated third of the food produced for consumption is wasted. Furthermore, food loss and waste (FLW) is expected to increase in line with increased food production for a range of reasons, including poor agricultural inputs, weather and climatic factors, and general inefficiencies related to food supply chains. Therefore, managing FLW is a crucial step in ensuring food security.
Supply chain collaborations in the form of combined efforts among stakeholders offer the potential to reduce FLW, but neither current supply chain conditions in developing countries nor existing power dynamics favour collaboration. Moreover, given the complexity and multidimensionality of FLW, identifying appropriate strategies for collaboration requires systematic analysis of both the discrete components of commodity production and the entire handling system.
This study focuses on the production of tomatoes, a highly perishable and high-value crop, with the intention of creating a framework for stakeholder collaboration towards reducing FLW. Using a mixed-method approach for data collection and analysis, the research aims to map out the different roles played by actors in the supply chain, the conditions that account for FLW, and challenges and possible pathways for stakeholder collaboration. The assumption is that the adoption of the framework will increase smallholder farmers’ levels of empowerment, which will in turn increase their collaborative advantage, resulting in the formation of stronger and more successful collaborations aimed at reducing FLW. The further assumption is that both the framework and the lessons learnt could be adopted by and scaled up to apply to other agricultural supply chains and other regions.