Global action needed to reduce food loss - GulfToday

Global action needed to reduce food loss

Global action needed to reduce food loss

The photo has been used for illustrative purposes.

As countries across the globe get set to mark the World Food Day on Wednesday, one key question that needs to be asked is what effective measures can be taken across sectors to make healthy and sustainable diets affordable and accessible to everyone.

As per a new report launched by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), globally around 14 per cent of the world’s food is lost after harvesting and before reaching the retail level, including through on-farm activities, storage and transportation.

The food losses vary considerably from one region to another within the same commodity groups and supply chain stages.

The need to reduce such massive food loss as firmly embedded in the 2030 agenda for sustainable development should never be underestimated.

A combination of causes — including harvesting and handling practices, a lack of infrastructure, agricultural blights and climatic conditions — keeps fuelling large food losses around the world.

As per the report, losses and waste are generally higher for fruits and vegetables than for cereals and pulses at all stages in the food supply chain, with the exception of on-farm losses and those during transportation in Eastern and South-Eastern Asia.

In lower-income countries, more fresh fruit and vegetable loss is attributed to poor infrastructure than in industrialised countries.

Many lower-income countries lose significant amounts of food during storage, often due to poor storage facilities.

UN estimates reveal that over 820 million people suffer from hunger, while even more people suffer from overweight and obesity.

Unhealthy diets, combined with sedentary lifestyles, have overtaken smoking as the world’s number 1 risk factor for disability and death worldwide.

Also, an estimated 2 trillion dollars is spent each year to treat health problems caused by obesity.

It may be recalled that the WFP last week launched “Stop the Waste”, a global campaign in Dubai to raise awareness about the huge amounts of edible food that are discarded daily.

The event was held with the support of Mariam Hareb Almheiri, Minister of State for Food Security, who invited the UAE general public, the food and beverage industry, hospitality sector and the end consumer in the UAE to join the pledge and commit to reducing food waste.

The WFP also launched a 30-second animated video to highlight food waste and solutions to prevent it.

“#StopTheWaste is a campaign that is relevant to everyone involved in the food supply chain from farm to fork. We need to stop wasting food because it is not just about the food produce; it is also about the invested money, labour and resources, such as energy, land, seeds and water that go into producing this food, as pointed out by Director of WFP Office in the UAE and Representative to the GCC Region, Mageed Yahia.

The programme outlined simple steps to pledge #StopTheWaste: 1. Search your fridge or pantry for a food item that is nearing its expiration date and is safe to eat 2. Snap a selfie with your item (do not forget to eat it) 3. Share your photo on social media using #StopTheWaste and challenge three friends by tagging them in your post 4. Take your pledge one step further by sharing your food waste recipes or host a dinner party and encourage others to do the same.

The way forward is for countries to step up efforts to tackle the root causes of food loss and waste at all stages.

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