Curbing food waste will not only boost food security, but will also improve livelihoods, reduce GHG emissions, and save land and water. Reliable transport is an essential factor in reducing food loss, which requires additional investments in rural road construction and maintenance, and the increased availability of rural transport services to provide regular all-season means for getting agricultural products safely to domestic and global markets.
Action focused primarily on freight transport, acknowledging that in rural areas, produce from smallholders is often commingled among mixed passenger-freight vehicles.
Action focused primarily on motorized modes of road transport, though improvements to rural roads also increases the effectiveness of intermediate modes of transport that provide ‘first mile’ access for agricultural products.
According to a study by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), food loss and waste accounts for about 3.3 Gt of greenhouse gas emissions every year, an annual emission level only exceeded by China and the United States. In addition, large amounts of water and fertilizer go into the production of this food, creating further GHG emissions.
Globally, food worth USD $750 billion is lost or wasted each year throughout the supply chain, and reducing food loss and waste could help to reduce financial burdens on the world’s most vulnerable people. In Sub-Saharan Africa alone, the World Bank estimates that a 1% reduction in post-harvest losses could lead to economic gains of USD $40 million each year, which will depend in part upon more reliable rural transport options.
45% of the land area in low-income countries (LICs) and 51% in the lower middle-income countries (MICs) is located more than five hours away from the next market. About half the agricultural area in these remote regions has sufficient agricultural potential, but lacks infrastructure for proper integration into the wider economy; thus, additional strides must be made.
In India, the Prime Minister’s Rural Roads Program was launched in 2000 with the aim to provide all weather farm-to-market connectivity to all population centers of more than 500 people. A key development has been more transparent and rational organization and planning procedures, which allows road funds to be used to increase efficiency and sustainability.