The resource-efficient supply of food to a growing world population is one of the core challenges of our society. Already today, food is produced for over 12 billion people worldwide, but almost one third of this food is lost. While in western industrialised countries a large part of these losses can be attributed to the end consumer, the opposite picture is emerging in developing countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Rather, it is post-harvest losses along the logistics chain (to the end consumer) that account for the majority of losses here. Inefficient logistics processes, low technology use, long distances, inaccurate demand forecasts and lack of training standards are only part of the range of causes that developing countries in sub-Saharan Africa need to address in order to ensure sustainable economic growth and thus stable employment growth.
In Ethiopia, the leverage of low-loss food logistics on a sustainable employment impact for jobs is particularly high. Ethiopia itself has for years had one of the fastest growing economies in sub-Saharan Africa - with almost a third of GDP generated by the agricultural sector. Moreover, almost two-thirds of the working-age population work within this sector. Inefficient logistics continue to be a huge cost driver here, preventing local businesses (along the logistics chain between harvest and end consumer) from operating sustainably, expanding accordingly and hiring additional staff. The core products of Ethiopia's food industry are coffee, meat, fruit and vegetables, with fruit and vegetables currently being grown primarily for the local market. However, the government is already pushing to create better conditions for the export of this food group.
The research project therefore aims to investigate the food structures in Ethiopia on site, to structure the causes of losses and to develop measures together with the local industry that contribute to increasing process efficiency and loss prevention both within and across companies. In the identification of best practice approaches, the derivation of process standards and the exemplary testing of the developed approaches, the investigation of the influence of technologies (including storage, transport and cooling technologies as well as platform approaches) on loss prevention also plays a decisive role. In this context, it will also be investigated to what extent low-loss food logistics can have an impact on employment in Ethiopia. The indirect effects through the use of locally available technologies will also be taken into consideration. The food groups focused on in the research project are the three groups already mentioned: Coffee, meat and fruit/vegetables. On the one hand, these are among the most important food groups in the country; on the other hand, they have different logistical requirements and handling characteristics that require different approaches to the design of loss-free logistical systems.
In order to approach this goal, the research project chooses a multidirectional approach that interlinks science and practice from the beginning to ensure the practical feasibility of the identified approaches at an early stage. In this context, industry workshops are conducted locally in Ethiopia, case studies are collected and field trials are carried out to test the feasibility of measures. The data and findings collected in this way will be directly incorporated into quantitative analyses, scientific publications, etc. The design framework of the research project, including the tasks of the work packages, the methods and formats used and the stakeholders to be involved, is shown in the following figure.