Woman with harvest

Post-Harvest Loss and Food Insecurity in Burundi

Recently, I read an interesting article called “In Burundi, What Do Farmers and Food Waste Have in Common?” shared by the World Food Program. Within the context of the article, a hyperbolic example was shared. “If all the food produced locally in Burundi in one year were gathered and distributed, there would only be enough to feed Burundians for 55 days.”

Sister Connection’s conversations with widows supports this reality regarding food insecurity in Burundi.  Last August, during widow visitations, unsponsored widows consistently reported that they were surviving as a family on one meal per day, usually eaten in the mid afternoon. That meal typically includes cassava, bananas or potatoes. Our National Director in Burundi reports that some widows are missing meals completely two days each week.

“In Burundi, more than half of the population is chronically food insecure. Post-harvest loss (PHL) is a form of food waste that occurs before food ever reaches the plate. It happens when food spoils because of poor storage, when crops rot in the field, or when food is damaged during transportation.  Across Africa, farmers lose up to 40% of their crops because of PHL.” Applying this calculation to the Burundian scenario would reduce the food supply from 55 days to only 33 days.

Due to the lack of farmable land, solutions for food insecurity seem best solved by decreasing post-harvest loss and increasing crop yield.

The article paints a grim picture of the quantity of food available in Burundi, and while decreasing food waste by reducing PHL is enormously impactful, it does not address the issue of food nutrition. Food quality is the other half of this conversation, which I will pick up next time.