Major research universities located in the United States, Asia, the United Kingdom, Africa, Australia, and South America and a research institute in Israel have joined the WORLD FOOD PRESERVATION CENTER LLC. These "Sister" Universities and the Institute are working together in a unique partnership to develop new sustainable technologies to combat food loss in developing countries and throughout the world. This joint effort also provides graduate students from developing countries with a world-class education in the postharvest preservation of food.
One of the great challenges of the 21st century will be to feed a rapidly growing population. Current projections suggest the number of people on earth will outpace our ability to feed them by 2050. Food insecurity can lead not only to famine but also to political instability and violence.
Evidence shows clearly that we cannot grow our way out of this crisis. Crop yields are currently increasing at a rate of only 1 to 2 percent annually, even as we invest hundreds of millions of dollars annually in agricultural science. Yet one solution to the problem of food scarcity is too often overlooked: We already have enough food to feed billions of more people if we only saved the food we grew. One-third of the food that we produce globally is lost between the time it is harvested and consumed. In developing countries, as much as half of harvested crops are lost between the field and consumer. Studies have shown that 95% of our agricultural dollars are spent on food production—and only 5% in postharvest preservation.
The WORLD FOOD PRESERVATION CENTER LLC is fighting to correct this imbalance through education, innovation, and advocacy. This consortium of universities and a research institute are expanding their existing educational programs and research priorities to place a greater emphasis on the postharvest preservation of food. The universities associated with this program are establishing M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in postharvest preservation, and their research teams are pioneering safe, natural, and sustainable techniques for preventing food loss along the food chain from harvest to consumer.