Achieving Sustainable Development Goal of “zero hunger” will be possible only with ‘zero wastage’ of food
For a traditional Nepali like me, the invitation to wedding parties or any other feasts is a matter of great excitement due to fascinating varieties of food I get to eat. But I cannot ignore the bulk of food wasted on those occasions. This fades my bashing mood, as I have read the statistics that millions of children and adults are compelled to go to bed hungry every night. The image of children starving to death haunts me the whole night afterwards.
By 2050 the world population will reach nine billion. This will surely increase the percentage of hungry people all around the globe. The reason for fueling global hunger is decline in food production and increase in food wastage. We must reduce food wastage and increase food production to address the global hunger.
The statistics shows that one third food produced for human consumption gets wasted annually. Food is lost or wasted throughout the supply chain, from initial production down to final household consumption.
In the age of facebooking and instagraming, we have developed a food fashion. In order to meet this, large amount of food is wasted for failing to meet the criteria. Similarly, the local raw produce is overshadowed by KFCs Chicken, Mo Mo and other lavish banquets.
We can take two approaches to minimize the food loss at consumption level (plates), processing level and production level. First, we need to change our psychology of food. The plate must be full to the amount that is sufficient for us. Food must not be perceived as fashion, but a need. All the local produce must be encouraged. Second approach could be to minimize the spoilage of food in production or processing or consumption level. Adopting post-harvest techniques, timely harvest and changing the habit of discarding food for ugly appearance (such as discarding the banana with spots on the skin) can help a lot.
The world is busy negotiating with possibility of nuclear war. But the war that will starve and kill all of us is approaching soon in the form of global hunger if human wisdom fails to address the problem. The challenges of climate change leading to desertification and global climatic shift are accelerating the global hunger. In this context, the wastage of food at present could be fatal for future.
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) states that the amount of food wasted currently would be enough to feed two billion people of the world. Similarly, 1.4 billion hectares of land—28 percent of the world’s agricultural area—is used annually to produce food that is lost or wasted. This must be corrected.
According to Food Aid foundation, Asia is home to two third of total hungry population. Majority of them lives in developing countries like Nepal. Twenty five percent of Nepal’s population lives below the poverty line on less than US$ 0.50 per day, according to World Food Program. Poverty and poor food accessibility are raising the threats of hunger in Nepal. The wastage of food increases the national import to encounter high demand. As a result the food price skyrockets and leads to decrease in purchasing power of impoverished population. This will obviously intensify the hunger.
In Nepal the waste of food is caused due to poor market access. The milk holiday is the best example of this. Due to lower price given to farmers we hear about the farmers throwing their produce in roads. So, the government should take control in fixing the price of agricultural produce. The lack of proper processing centers is also contributing to bulk of food wasted in Nepal. The post harvest loss could be minimized by processing the surplus goods to juice, pickles etc.
The habit of taking half plate than full plate of food might seem to have less impact, but has profound global impact as the food wasted in each plate could feed one hungry stomach.
The huge void of hungry and obese can be glued by decreasing the wastage of food produced. It will be possible to achieve Sustainable Development Goal of “zero hunger” only with zero wastage of food. Let’s not waste food. Every grain matters. Every single bite matters.
The author is associated with Prime Minister Agriculture Modernization Project