By Mwalya Wambua
Food and Agriculture Organization reported that 820 million people go without food every day. Yet, one-third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted during the sale and consumption value addition chain. Worse of it all, 45% of the essential human diet -fruits and vegetables- are wasted. Going by statistics, this translates to about US $ 940 billion a year and accounts for about a quarter of the water used in agriculture. Further, the loss is accountable for 8% of the global greenhouse gases. Developing strategies to combat agriculture produce losses is not only addressing extensive spread poverty and improving nutrition but also taking a toll on climate change.
To tap into the business opportunity that is both profitable and is of benefit to the supply chain, governments need to build capacity among small businesses, facilitate investment research for development and deployment of new technologies as well as to improve the regulatory environment. Successful approaches have been the case studies of satellite dairy coolers in Kenya, hermetically sealed bags to store maize grains in Tanzania and using wood crates for tomatoes transportation in Nigeria.
The mitigation steps are promising; however, to equate growing food demand with production while cutting down on emissions, Kenya needs to borrow a leaf from large scale mitigation efforts. Europe is on the charge. France passed legislation banning supermarkets from tossing food, instead requiring them to donate foods approaching expiry to charity. Additionally, food was no longer to be locked in a warehouse or bleached in garbage bins with remissions to food banks increasing. Consequently, France recorded a 1.8% food loss in 2016 ranking the highest in 2017 Food Sustainability Index.
Italy is closely following the track with ambitions to reduce 5 million food wasted each year. Italy, signed-in a law requiring diners to take home eateries in bags, easing supermarkets and farmers way of donating food. It also offered tax breaks for food donors. In response to food loss, South Korea has resulted in massive bio-waste recycling into animal feeds, biogas and fertilizer. The outcomes are exceptional; the food waste recycling rate had risen drastically from 2.1% in 1995 to unbelievable 90.2% in 2016.
Smallholder farmers and producers need financial incentives to be cost-effective in managing food waste and loss. Better data is integral in using specific actions to create awareness on cutting down the wastage among suppliers and consumers. Currently, the World Food Program is in provision of new technologies for storage and transportation and connecting farmers with the market. This gives us a new perspective on food production and consumption, maybe we produce enough, but we also waste enough to always be in deficiency.