DECATUR, ILLINOIS, U.S. — Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) on Jan. 19 announced the formation of the ADM Institute for the Prevention of Postharvest Loss with a $10 million grant to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, U.S. The global institute will work with smallholder farmers in the developing world to help preserve millions of tonnes of grains and oilseeds lost each year to pests, disease, mishandling and other factors.
"As we look ahead to the middle of this century, global population is expected to reach more than 9 billion people, and the demand for agricultural products is expected to as much as double,” said Patricia A. Woertz, ADM chairman, chief executive officer and president. “Clearly, preserving what is already grown is fundamental to feeding the world, and to making the most of the land, water, energy and other inputs already used to grow crops.
Today, just 5% of all agricultural research dollars goes to the study of postharvest handling and infrastructure. The ADM Institute for the Prevention of Postharvest Loss will focus on helping farmers around the world preserve more of what they grow through training, tools and technologies that can help eliminate pests and disease, enable more efficient grain storage and handling, prevent spoilage and improve crop quality overall.”
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, about 30 million tonnes of corn, 20 million tonnes of wheat, and nearly 3 million tonnes of soybeans — with an aggregate value estimated at more than $14 billion — went to waste worldwide in 2007, the latest year for which the FAO has made data available. The University of Illinois has noted that the amount of wheat and rice lost during that year could have satisfied the cereal-grain dietary needs of more than 380 million people. Much of the loss occurs in developing nations, which lack essential infrastructure, technology and training needed to prevent spoilage and waste.
University of Illinois president Michael Hogan said: “We are proud to partner with ADM to help advance practical strategies to combat postharvest losses. Our administration and faculty are committed to making this institute a leading research hub for preserving the global harvest of corn, oilseeds, wheat and rice — staple crops that account for a large percentage of the world’s food.”
The ADM Institute for the Prevention of Postharvest Loss’s educational, research and outreach functions will include:
- Promoting technology advancements and improved supply-chain and information systems;
- Establishing strategic partnerships with government organizations, other academic institutions and NGOs to identify research needs and to enhance implementation of research results;
- Developing courses to provide training on best practices and technologies for minimizing postharvest losses; and
- Establishing an authoritative, web-based postharvest loss data clearinghouse and resource center to accelerate the transformation of science into practice throughout the global corn, rice, wheat and oilseed supply chains.
Funding for the ADM Institute for the Prevention of Postharvest Loss will be provided by ADM Cares, a corporate social-investment program that directs up to 1% of ADM’s pretax profits to initiatives and organizations that drive meaningful social, economic and environmental progress worldwide.
Steven T. Sonka, professor of agricultural management in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will serve as the global institute’s faculty director. Sonka has authored or coauthored over 220 books, articles and publications, and been recognized for distinguished teaching by the American Agricultural Economics Association and the National Association of Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture.
“ADM’s widely recognized expertise in crop storage, transportation and handling will no doubt prove valuable to our global institute as we work to advance the real-world applicability of promising research findings,” said Sonka.