Knowledge Based Bio-Economy


Gains from Losses of Root and Tuber Crops (Environmental Impacts and Total Food Chain)

Project acronym: GRATITUDE

Title of project: Gains from Losses of Root and Tuber Crops

Research area: Environmental Impacts and Total Food Chain

Contract No: 289843

EU contribution: €2 850 413

Start date: January 2012

Duration: 36 months

Status: on-going

Cassava and yam are important food security crops for approximately 700 million people. However, losses after harvesting and during processing can be as high as 60% (in the case of yam, 30% for cassava), which is not only detrimental to food security and the environment, but also means that opportunities to increase the value generated from these crops are lost. Postharvest physical losses are exceptionally high and occur throughout the food chain. Losses in economic value are also high (e.g. cassava prices discounted by up to 85% within a couple of days of harvest). Wastes come in various forms e.g. peeling losses can be 15-20%. Waste often has no economic value which can make processing a marginal business proposition.

Gratitude (Gains from Losses of Root and Tuber Crops), led by the Natural Resources Institute (NRI), University of Greenwich UK, in collaboration with 15 other organisations, is investigating solutions that will reduce waste from postharvest losses of root and tuber crops and turn unavoidable waste into something of value, enhancing the role these crops play in food and income security.

The Gratitude project aims to reduce these losses, enhancing the role that these crops play in food and income security. Technologies and systems developed and validated within the Gratitude project will particularly benefit small-holder households, and will support small and medium-scale enterprises to increase profitability, create new jobs and develop links to large-scale industry. This project will help improve the livelihoods of people on low incomes and enhance the role that these crops play in food and income security.

The overall objective of Gratitude (Gains from Losses of Root and Tuber Crops) is to improve the post-harvest management of cassava and yams leading to reduced physical losses, reduced economic losses through value-added processing, and valorisation of waste products.

The project has three impact pathways:

  • Reduction of physical losses – focusing on fresh yam storage
  • Value-added processing reducing physical and economic losses in yam and cassava
  • Improved utilization of wastes (peels, liquid waste, spent brewery waste) producing products for consumption including snack foods, mushrooms and animal feed.

The quantifiable impact of these interventions will be new, validated technologies capable of reducing post-harvest losses by the equivalent of 50%.

Beyond these direct results, the lessons learnt and the methodologies for the assessment of reducing losses and increasing the value of what are currently waste products will be shared with other countries from all continents, and also with other groups of countries (Asia, South America) in order to disseminate the results among research communities involved in food research in developing countries.

Website of

Coordinator: Keith Tomlins,

Organisation: University of Greenwich, UK,