Blog post: Three Questions for Mamadou Biteye

Written by Caroline Ott - Since 2013, The Rockefeller Foundation has been working with partners to draw much needed attention to the issue of the effects of post-harvest loss. They key aim is to achieve a sustainable, food secure future across Sub-Saharan Africa by making the often overlooked issue of post-harvest loss more visible, and by having stakeholders commit to playing a greater role in reducing such losses.

This week in The Hague, Mamadou Biteye, Managing Director for Africa at the Rockefeller Foundation, joined a panel of investment and finance specialists to discuss this new Initiative. Following the panel, I had the chance to sit down with Mr. Biteye to ask a few questions:

The new strategy encompasses several themes familiar to agricultural development: improving smallholder farmer access to technology, strengthening market linkages, securing access to finance, and improving smallholder farmer education. What lessons from comparable agricultural development projects will Rockefeller apply to this new initiative?

As we entered this space, knew that there were many existing solutions and approaches. We sought to answer one key question: why is it that these solutions are not reaching the smallholder farmers?

The strategy I outlined at this conference is not really about introducing new approaches, but about realigning actors and interventions. How do you train farmer groups? How do you consolidate them? How do you aggregate their produce? How do you create collection centers to shorten the value chain between traders and consolidators?

As for financial linkages, we want to find a way to introduce new approaches and technologies that are geared towards post-harvest loss reduction. We want to find a way for financial products to more directly serve the interest of reducing post-harvest loss.

What role will governments and policymakers play in executing or complementing your strategy?

It’s clear to us that the role of government is important, particularly in creating an enabling environment. When we talk about financial inclusion and linkages, as well as loan guarantees, government can play a role. For example, what role can legislation play in facilitating leasing contracts? Government also has a significant role to play in the transfer of technology. Our market-oriented strategy will not be applied on its own; as we continue to develop this strategy, there will be an additional policy component.

Will the Food Waste and Spoilage Initiative focus on a specific geography or crop type?

The Initiative is still under design and development, and we have not yet selected a specific geographic region or set of commodities. Choices regarding geography and commodities will be made based on where we can have the most potential for impact, and where the potential for partnerships exist.