Postharvest loss reduction interventions database

Reducing postharvest losses of food crops is a critical component of sustainably increasing agricultural productivity and reducing hunger

Database available from early January

Scroll down to search the set of studies

Particularly in the case of small-scale producers, significant amounts of food crops are either: left in the field or damaged by poor handling at harvest; harvested immature or over mature; spilt or damaged during transport; scattered or lost during threshing or peeling; attacked by insects, rodents, fungi or bacteria during storage; stored in poorly constructed structures; packed in inappropriate containers; handled without the use of a cold chain; left to rot in the field due to seasonal production gluts or limited market linkages, information systems or crop processing knowledge.

There are numerous reasons for crop postharvest losses and these losses can occur at various stages along the handling chain leading to reductions in the quantity and quality of food available and the crop sales-related income opportunities of small-scale producers. Many postharvest loss reduction interventions have been tested, but synthesised information to support evidence-based investments and policy is scarce.

Ceres2030 reducing food loss

The Ceres2030 postharvest team analysed the evidence on interventions for reducing postharvest losses and their associated costs to provide decision-makers with the information needed to help meet the targets set by Sustainable Development Goal 2 of ending hunger by 2030.

The Ceres2030 postharvest team systematically screened and reviewed the evidence-base to determine ‘What interventions small-scale producers and associated value chain actors in sub-Saharan African and South Asian countries can adopt to reduce postharvest losses along food crop value chains?’ The synthesis of this evidence for 22 key food crops was published by Nature Sustainability and is available here. The focal 22 food crops are:

  • Cereals: maize, rice, sorghum, wheat
  • Legumes: beans, cowpeas, pigeon peas, chickpeas, groundnuts
  • Roots and tubers: cassava, potato, sweetpotato, yam
  • Fruits: plantain, banana, mango, papaya, all citrus fruits including orange, lemon, lime, mandarin
  • Vegetables: cabbage, onion, tomato, leafy vegetable


A search strategy was used to sequentially search CAB Abstracts, Web of Science, Scopus, numerous additional electronic databases, and grey literature sources, for studies of postharvest loss reduction interventions for 22 key food crops and 57 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia from the 1970s to 2019. This resulted in identification of almost 13,000 studies, and the title and abstract of each study was independently screened by two researchers in the Ceres2030 postharvest team, using a set of inclusion/exclusion criteria.

Studies were excluded if they:

  • did not include a postharvest loss reduction intervention for one of the 22 focal food crops
  • did not take place in sub-Saharan Africa or South Asia
  • were not relevant to PHL reduction by small-scale producers or their associated value chain actors
  • did not include original research
  • did not report the effect of an intervention on PHL, which required comparison between different interventions, or adopters and non-adopters, or pre and post adoption
  • did not test an intervention at a meaningful scale at field-level or in a real-world context,
  • were not written in either English or French

No date restrictions were applied.

The full texts of all studies included at the title and abstract screening stage were read to determine whether to include them in the evidence-base. Using a coding framework, relevant data from the studies included at the full-text stage was extracted and used to conduct a meta-analysis to provide an overview of what interventions have been studied by crop, country, postharvest stage and to compare the efficacy of the different interventions in reducing PHLs. Full details of the methodology are provided in the Methods section of the article, and the pre-registered protocol is available at

The database

The Ceres2030 postharvest team used the evidence to construct an open-access database to support users in exploring the data by crop, country, postharvest activity and intervention type to inform and support evidence-based decisions, policy formulation and investments in postharvest loss reduction. This database provides users with the opportunity to interactively explore the data on postharvest loss reduction interventions. The intention is for this to become a living dataset, which will be updated biannually.

This interactive PHL reduction interventions database will be available from early January 2021.

The studies on postharvest loss reduction interventions

Explore the 334 studies included in the Evidence-base of interventions for crop postharvest loss reduction in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Search the table below by country, crop, postharvest stage, year and combinations of these to filter studies by, for example, a specific crop in a specific country. This list of studies can also be downloaded as an excel file here.

References Country Crop Postharvest activity stage Dbase Cov#
References Country Crop Postharvest activity stage Dbase Cov#