This article originally appeared in Business Day.
Dozens of trucks wait in line to cross the border from Kenya to Uganda. Hauling tomatoes along East Africa’s northern border, the drivers have lost up to four hours in reduced speed because of poor road conditions along some segments.
But when they approach the border, the delays get longer. It takes on average a full day for them to complete the paperwork required to cross from Kenya into Uganda.
The delay would cause financial losses with any freight, but it is especially troublesome with agricultural goods, where delays could leave much of a truckload unfit for sale at its destination.
This same losing scenario plays out in different ways throughout the world. Guatemalan exporters sending goods overland to Mexico are forced to offload their cargo from Guatemalan trucks at the border and reload it onto Mexican trucks, a regulatory hurdle that contributes to food spoilage and discourages commerce.
In Nigeria, trucks hauling cassava flour are required to carry about 50 different permits costing $75-$150 per truck per year, often making it uneconomical to transport the important food staple to markets where it is desperately needed.
In a world where 12.5% of the population suffers chronic undernourishment, the fact that 30% of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted between farm and fork is difficult to comprehend.
Along the agricultural supply chain—from post-harvest storage through transportation and distribution—spoilage, spillage and other contributors to food loss remain a serious problem.