The UN's SDGs: How Agribusinesses Can Eradicate Waste

The Post Harvest Team   |   May 21, 2020
SDGs Title Image

If you've never heard the term Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) before, then you may not be familiar with The UN's plans for a healthier, more preserved world by 2030. In correlation to eradicating resource waste through agribusiness methods, the SDGs contribute towards agribusinesses having new found objectives. Food, Agricultural Practices, and Technology help achieve multiple SDGs when they work in unison and that ultimately improves the world at large.

Many in agribusinesses are committed to reducing resource waste. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates food and waste amount to $680 billion in industrialised countries and $310 billion in developing countries. This means the world lost nearly $1 trillion in 2018 because of these issues.

There is a way forward that will helps achieve SDGs while revitalising rural landscapes. It won't be easy, but by driving change through innovative SDG methods, agribusiness companies can help take the lead in and drive positive change globally. It will require people, nations, and investors working together hand-in-hand with agribusiness companies.

Sustainable Development Goals

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is bold and achievable. The agenda's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) emphasise overcoming complex challenges the world faces. One of those challenges revolves around the need for food and agriculture to have transformative action that reduces resource waste.

One of the main connections between people and the planet is food and agriculture, as the entire agricultural industry globally employs 30% of all people both directly and indirectly. It is through food and agriculture innovations that the world can achieve multiple SDGs. But we are now at a crossroads.

Agribusiness companies and businesses are working hard to eradicate resource waste but agribusiness stakeholders can only contribute to SDGs if they can survive and grow.

So, in the effort to find and implement ways to reduce waste, entrepreneurs are tapping into the know-how of the private sector, including cooperatives, small and medium-sized enterprises, and even international corporations in order to access unlimited resource waste reduction solutions. There is a multinational company in South Africa that has taken on organic waste by using insects to create 100% organic fish, animal feed, oils, and soil fertiliser.

By breeding black soldier flies, they produce insect larvae that break down organic waste quickly. The company then takes the core product made from dried and defatted insect larvae and grounds it into high-protein meals that farm fish and livestock eat. Additionally, the larval residue is blended into the compost that helps enrich the soil. 

The private sector is now providing more than a source of funding. It is the funding that is unlocking the potential that is fundamental to progress. Private sector partnerships promise technology development, knowledge transfer and innovation, job creation, and alternative revenue streams.

Another example of agribusinesses optimising in order to reduce resource waste can be found in the transparency process of growing, transporting, and storing throughout the Cold Chain System's farm-to-fork process. The Cold Chain is part of a controlled system that tries to provide ideal conditions for the transition of fresh produce from the growers to the retail outlets.

PostHarvest, being mindful of The UN's Sustainability Goals, have found a way to incorporate highly accurate monitoring into the cold chain system in the form of amplification technology in order to help reduce resource waste. This amplification technology can be utilised through their Environmental Sensor. The Environmental Sensor also maximises outgoings and minimises food wastage.

The accurate monitoring of fresh produce requires an undisturbed/controlled atmosphere for the supplies, while also managing regular and highly sensitive atmosphere readings within a parts per billion (PPB) measurement reading. This scenario, while sounding like an oxymoron has been achieved by PostHarvest.

This level of sensitivity reading helps accurately find concentrations of contaminants and chemical compounds in the atmosphere. By using the Environmental Sensor, the cool chain system can monitor and optimise their fresh produce supplies on a global level and positively change the system.

Agribusiness Management Tenets

Agribusiness management has been taking the lead on some SDGs and is finding new ways to try to eradicate resource waste. Agribusiness management is doing this by using the five fundamental principles of SDGs as their foundation. The five key global tenets are:

  1. Increase employment, agriculture productivity, and value addition in food systems. 
  2. Protect and ensure the enhancement of natural resources.
  3. Improve the livelihood of inclusive economic growth by fostering its development where needed.
  4. Protect and enhance the resilience of people, communities, and ecosystems.
  5. Help adapt governance to new challenges and obstacles. 

Some of the above five principles can be successfully implemented, in part through the Internet of Things (IoT), AgTech, Environmental Sensors, Ethylene manipulation, and Traceability.

How Agribusinesses are Helping to Eradicate Resource Waste

In light of the UN's goals for a more sustainable world by 2030, Agribusinesses have risen to the occasion to not only reduce fresh produce waste but also contributing resources.

As losses of such large quantities of fresh produce also result in other large resource losses including; water, fuel, labour, time, and money. With an impending global food crisis, companies such as PostHarvest are looking to position themselves as an ally to the UN's efforts, with an affordable yet highly effective monitoring system that can be the answer to greatly reducing postharvest waste across multiple resource fronts.

PostHarvest's environmental sensor with its real-time, highly sensitive atmosphere readings, can provide the industry with actionable data that can initiate proactive measures to counteract irregularities in stored fresh produce supplies and the potential losses that be a result of that.

Stakeholders within the storage sector of the cold chain system, such as coolroom owners & operators, would be the most immediate form of target market for such technology. Coolroom storage is where fresh produce spends the majority of its lifespan when travelling through the cold chain system, as low oxygen levels and temperatures allow for products to sit within a controlled environment for as long as 18 months in some cases. With fresh produce spending such a long period of time being in storage, it makes sense that a lot of food loss seems to bottleneck through the storage aspect of the post-harvest journey.

Agribusinesses gain so much ethical weight that a Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) report from 2017 on SDG engagement showed that 90% of people believe it's vital for large industry companies to contribute towards SDGs.

If you have any further questions about resource waste and contributing towards the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, reach out to PostHarvest. Working towards a more sustainable future is only achievable when we all have a better understanding of what's at stake and how relevant and vital change in operational practices is for us all. 

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