Prof Olaniyi Fawole advocates for capacity building in postharvest & agroprocessing to combat food loss

For his professorial inauguration, Professor Olaniyi Fawole, one of the leading authors in the world on postharvest technology and agro processing of pomegranate fruit, raised awareness on food loss and waste.

Through the topic of his address “Saving the harvest, one crop at a time: a decade of research on pomegranate fruit”, Prof Fawole presented his lecture to the Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Johannesburg (UJ) Professor Tshilidzi Marwala, the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science, Professor Debra Meyer and invited guests on Thursday, 8 September 2022.

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The goals of Prof Fawole’s lecture was to raise awareness on food loss and waste, shed light on the interconnectedness of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and to advocate the need for capacity building in postharvest and agro processing for food loss and waste reduction.

“Horticulture is of great importance for the nation and farmers. Imagine going on a street full of beautiful flowers, breathing fresh fragrance, and a plate full of nutritional food. Is it so much to ask for,” asked Prof Fawole, continuing to talk about the benefits of horticulture which include enriched diets, increased incomes, and job creation, as well as a high environmental value.

He also spoke about the challenges of horticulture development, namely, gender equity, technological innovation and access to information and research capacity.

His research contributions to the pomegranate industry has supported harvesting practices by defining maturity indices of South African pomegranate fruit for the first time.

“Our research resulted in optimal storage requirements for pomegranate fruit by setting ideal storage conditions and periods during fruit export. It also contributed to improved packing house operations for handling and postharvest treatments and innovated non-destructive quality measurements of pomegranate fruit. Our research generated knowledge on value adding potential of pomegranate fruit and valorization for bio- and circular economy.”

Prof Fawole has been highly productive and impactful as an academic and received numerous national and global recognitions. He is one of the leading authors in the world on postharvest technology and agro-processing of pomegranate fruit (according to Scopus). He has published 139 peer-reviewed articles, including 21 conference papers, with an H-index of 34 and over 3700 citations in Google Scholar and an H-index of 29 and over 2600 citations in Scopus. Prof Fawole has published with collaborators in 13 countries, and his science communications include 55 conferences, 11 keynote lectures, 4 webinars and 3 masterclass presentations, locally and internationally.

Prof Fawole concluded that the global food waste crisis is one of the most impactful and pressing issues of the modern age.

“A multidisciplinary and integrated approach centred around capacity building is vital.The adoption of digital agricultural technologies can play a role in preventing or reducing food loss and waste and key in supporting practical policy options.”

A brief response by Professor Umezuruike Linus Opara, Distinguished Professor at Stellenbosch University, followed the address by Professor Fawole.

  Watch the inauguration here:
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