Reduce food loss and waste!

On December 19, 2019, the UN General Assembly designated September 29 as the International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste (IDAFLW).

The day is meant to call attention to food loss and waste and the importance of addressing the problem, which dovetails into promoting global efforts and collective action towards meeting Sustainable Development Goal 12.

The SDG 12 encourages more responsible production and consumption patterns.

Yesterday, the celebration of the IDAFLW was done virtually with speeches by such personalities as QU Dongyu, Director-General, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN and His Holiness Pope Francis.

They talked about the need to, at least, reduce food loss and waste due to the evil effects of the problem.

It is said that about one-third of food is lost or wasted from the farm to the point of consumption.

Experts have estimated that currently, around 1.4 billion tonnes of food is lost or wasted.

Specifically, around one-third of food produced globally is lost or wasted, resulting in economic losses of an estimated $1 trillion a year and in sub-Saharan Africa, the estimate is roughly 37 per cent

In Ghana, it is estimated that 66 per cent of fruits and vegetable, 40 per cent of root crops and 21 per cent of grains are lost annually.

The country’s problem can be attributed more particularly to short shelf life worsened by lack of storage facilities like public silos.

In Ghana as elsewhere in Africa,the problem renders the smallholder farmer and petty traders dealing in fresh food poorer, especially when there is glut.

The situation contributes to food prices rising and reducing access to food by vulnerable people globally.

Worse of it all is that waste food pollutes the environment and affects the health of the people.

It is recorded, for example, that in 2018 alone, more than 35 million tonnes of food went into landfills in the United States.

Food waste in landfills generates methane, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.

Meanwhile, there is starvation across the globe; 20 per cent of Africans suffer chronic hunger compared to the global figure of 10 per cent.

African countries are classified into severe, very serious, serious, moderate and low in terms of hunger.

Fortunately, Ghana suffers moderate hunger but even that is not something to rejoice about.

This is because facing moderate hunger or food insecurity means the people have reduced either the quality or quantity or both of their food and are uncertain about their ability to obtain food due to lack of money or other resources.

We know the government knows what to do to save itself the threats associated with food insecurity.

An article by Dr Stella Agyeman Duah, a research scientist with Ghana Atomic Energy Commission, which was published on page 9 of this paper yesterday, is instructive.

She urges that an investment made by the government at the local level to reduce food losses and waste must be visible or reflective in farmers or producers’ lives [and the rest of the people].

Her appeal to the haves to share leftover food with the needy rather than throw it away for it to contribute to global warming is also very significant.

Clearly, there is the need to reduce food loss and waste to sustain the food systems and improve global health.

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