Every year, 16th October is celebrated as World Food Day. ‘Food’, a term with which we all are already in love from day 1 of our lives. Who doesn’t love food? Especially, when we have a million options to choose from. Food is an inseparable part of our daily lives and we cannot even imagine a day living without it. As they say, Good Food, Good Life.
But have you ever imagined about those who do not have even a single time meal to eat? There are millions of people in countries like India, Africa, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Syria who suffer from food starvation.
The UN celebrates Food day in the honour of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 1945 on this day. The day marks as a significant event for the organizations, like ‘World Food Programme’ & ‘International Fund for Agricultural Development’ which are aimed at promoting food security.
Food Security & Insecurity
Food security is the measure of the availability of healthy food and individuals’ ability to access it. A household can be said to be food secure if all the members of the house have access to enough food for an active healthy life. Thus, Food insecurity is a situation where limited or uncertain nutritionally adequate and safe foods are available or there is a limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways.
Food Wastage Statistics & Facts:
As per a report of Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of United States, almost 870 million people were chronically undernourished in the years 2010–2012, which is approximately 12.5% of the global population or 1 in every 8 people.
Further, the rates were higher in developing countries with around 852 million people coming from developing countries only. While developing countries account for US$ 380 billion (630 million tonnes) worth of food wastage, industrialised nations waste food worth $ 680 billion (670 million tonnes) annually.
Around 40-50% of this wasted food consists of fruits, vegetables, roots, tubers and other vegetarian stuff, 35% for fish & sea-food, 30% for cereals, 20% for oilseeds, meat and dairy and the rest.
United Nations has observed that 2 billion people do not have access to a sufficient amount of vitamins and minerals. The 2nd most populated country in the world, India, has gained pace in undernourishment since the 1990s to add 30 million starving people to the nation. Around 46% of children in the country are underweight.
The key findings of FAO resources tell us that around 1/3 of the total food produces in the world gets wasted.
A report by FAO tells that the amount of food wasted by rich countries annually is the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa which is around 230 million tonnes.
Per Capita Figures:
If we look at the total food production of the world, average total per capita food production for human consumption is about 900 kg a year in rich & developed nations while 460 kg a year in poor and under-developed nations.
Further, if we look at the food wastage, then every individual in a developed nation like Europe and North America, every individual wastes 95-115 kg of food a year. While countries like sub-Saharan Africa, south and south-eastern Asia, face 6-11 kg food wastage per person per year.
While there is sufficient food to cater to the world population, then what is it that escalates the problem of hunger in poor nations, so much that around 30% of the world population starves for food and suffer malnutrition?
Who is to be blamed?
As per a report by National Geographic, every year 1.3 billion tonnes of food gets wastes which cost around the US $ 1 trillion.
Another report by FeedbackGlobal tells that one billion hungry people could be fed on less than a quarter of the food that is wasted in the US, UK and Europe only.
In developing countries, 40% of food loss occurs at post-harvest and processing levels while in industrialized countries more than 40% of losses happen at retail and consumer levels. 25% of the world’s fresh water supply and an area larger than China is used to grow food that is never eaten.
Food waste and losses occur in these countries mainly at early stages of the food value chain. This loss can be traced back to financial, managerial and technical constraints to improve harvesting techniques, storage and cooling facilities.
In fact, at the retail level, large quantities of food are wasted due to over-emphasize appearance & quality standards. Although the retail level food wastage accounts for only 2% of the total wastage, in a world where 30% population stays hungry, 2% can play a major role.
We all need to take a call for action towards saving the food wastage. It amounts to a major squandering of resources loss including water, land, energy, labour and capital. Further, this wastage needlessly escalates greenhouse effect with GHG emissions, contributing to global warming and climate change.
Checkpoints shall be made at planning, pre-production, production, post-production, supply, processing, distribution and every single level of the food supply chain to control the production, supply and distribution of food. The government shall formulate policies and develop statistics to understand the food requirement of their population. A city, state and a national level control panel shall exist to enable the appropriate circulation of food to make it accessible and affordable for every single being.