university of illinois at urbana-champaign

International Research Collaboration to Contribute New Data on Postharvest Loss in China


Henan Province, China
The project will be conducted in Henan Province, China.

A joint research project is underway between the ADM Institute for the Prevention of Postharvest Loss at the University of Illinois and the Chinese Research Center for Rural Economy (RCRE) that aims to explore the full extent of the issue of postharvest loss in China. Each year, China produces 20% of the world’s food, yet more than 50 million tonnes of food is lost or wasted along agricultural supply chains. “With global demand for food rising rapidly, finding ways to preserve what is already grown, especially in China, is critical for achieving food security,” says ADM Institute Director, Dr. Prasanta Kalita. The project examines wheat postharvest loss issues by comparing measured losses with estimated losses, an approach that has not been used before, experts believe.

The project was initiated in October 2013 after the two institutions signed a Memorandum of Understanding in August 2013. It has two survey components - a questionnaire and a collection of field measurements of loss. These surveys will be conducted in Henan Province over the next several months. Researchers will also document components of the wheat supply chains and postharvest loss issues in Henan, and compile results in a number of case studies.

The survey involves asking approximately 600 farmers how much postharvest loss they experience. Researchers will measure physical losses of the same survey region, giving them a picture of the differences between farmer perceptions of loss and actual loss. “I’m very excited about this because if we had both actual measurements and estimates of the same situations, this might be the first time that a correlation has been investigated between these two approaches to gain data,” says Steve Sonka, University of Illinois ag economist and researcher at the ADM Institute. Postharvest loss prevention efforts lack reliable and comprehensive data, which inhibits the development of effective solutions.

An origination site in Henan Province, China
Grains lay on the ground without cover at an origination site in Henan Province.
Credit: ADM Institute/Grace Kenney

RCRE is a publicly funded think tank in China that has an extensive survey network of 23,000 households in 31 provinces and 1,200 leading ag-processing companies in all provinces. RCRE will lead the project and conduct the survey, measurement, and case studies. ADM Institute faculty affiliates will contribute in defining the framework, designing the survey instrument, and assessing findings of the project.

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that 1.3 billion tonnes of food is lost or wasted around the world each year. Postharvest loss prevention is recognized by leading development actors as an important means to achieving global food security. With a focus on loss prevention of staple crops in developing nations, the ADM Institute was established in 2011 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a $10 million gift from the Archers Daniels Midland Company.

More information about the project and the ADM Institute can be found at

News Source: ADM Institute, 217-333-5115,
News Writer: Kari Wozniak, 217-333-5115,

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Mountain of grain 2 people working in rice field