Social Investing: Postharvest Loss

Working to preserve more of what the world grows

In 2011, ADM founded the ADM Institute for the Prevention of Postharvest Loss with a US$10 million grant to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The Institute works with smallholder farmers in the developing world to advance the adoption of practices and technologies that can help preserve the estimated tens of millions of metric tons of grains and oilseeds that are lost each year as a result of mishandling, poor transportation, inadequate storage and other factors. Among the Institute’s most notable projects to date:

  • Helping growers in the developing world via online learning: The Institute is an active contributor to the University of Illinois Internet resource “Scientific Animations Without Borders,” which aims to disseminate vital scientific and technical information—using simple graphics, images and voice tracks available in multiple languages—to people in the developing world who lack basic reading and writing skills. “Increasingly, farmers in developing countries have access to cellphones, and in the next five years, that adoption will increase dramatically,” says Steven Sonka, professor emeritus of Agricultural Strategy and director of the Institute. “With streaming animation over mobile networks, we can provide instruction on simple but high-impact actions farmers in the developing world can take to save more of their crops.” To date, the Institute has created and made available several animation modules that show farmers how to properly bag crops, load truck beds, and transport crops to their destinations in ways that minimize the potential for loss and spoilage. The videos can be viewed at
  • The Institute has also established collaborative research networks with institutions in Brazil and India to investigate topics of critical importance to the reduction of postharvest loss. In October 2012, the Institute provided key research content at the first workshop devoted to research needs to reduce postharvest loss in Mato Grosso, Brazil.


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