POST TIME: 21 October, 2021 07:22:41 PM
Combating food waste
A Russian wastes only 33 kg of food every year on an average followed by the United States of America (59kg) and Ireland (55kg) while Afghanistan has been considered the highest food wasting country where on an average a person wastes 82 kg of food every year. On an average a Bangladeshi wastes 65 kg of food each year.
Alaul Alam

Combating food waste

Food waste is undeniably a terrible issue in the world. It is contributing to intensifying the global hunger problem. But unfortunately this problem has not been addressed by the world community as seriously as it should be. For surviving in the world food is a must for every living being. People living in many parts of the world still suffer from severe food crisis. As per the report of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in 2020, seven million people across the world died of hunger. Along with this, it is estimated that the Covid-19 has deepened the existing hunger crisis in the world.
Are we not responsible for the looming food crisis? Certainly, we are. In most cases this is one of the man-made crises that puts the humanity into food insecurity. According to Food Waste Index Report 2021 people globally waste one billion tons of food every year. The report also revealed that 17 per cent of the total food available in the world was wasted in homes, institutions, retail outlets and restaurants.
It is obvious that the world food production has increased many times over the ages. Sources claim that the food the world produces is enough to feed twice the world’s present population. But regrettably many parts of the world face huge food crisis. That’s why billions of people are facing hunger and malnutrition. The UN report states that there would be no food crisis and malnutrition across the world if it could be possible to reduce food waste only by 25 per cent.
Consumption and using food in decent manner is a must to address the global food crisis. But the situation corresponds that many countries across the globe are indifferent to combat food waste. They are so engrossed in their own interest and hardly think of others starving in other regions.
Many countries of the world are dependent on some countries to meet the food security of their population but in recent years there are many instances that food exporting is halted by the producing countries without any reasonable ground that deepens the woes of the import-oriented countries along with tons of food wasting which are the surplus in the producing countries.
However, it is generally considered that the people in the rich countries waste more food than the others living relatively less affluent countries. But the thing may be not like this in all regards. The recent UN research estimates that Russia has been considered the lowest food wasting country where a Russian wastes only 33 kg of food every year on an average followed by the United States of America (59kg) and Ireland (55kg) while Afghanistan has been considered the highest food wasting country where on an average a person wastes 82 kg of food every year.
Bangladesh is not the exception. On an average a Bangladeshi wastes 65 kg of food each year. This amount of waste is really much higher than that of a person who wastes food in a rich country. Sources say that every year 10.62 million tons of food are wasted by households in Bangladesh in which 61 per cent waste was produced from households, 26 per cent from food services and the rest from retails.
It is true that over the years Bangladesh has attained food security. With the use of modern technology in agriculture farmers in the country are producing bumper crops, in many cases the produces may be more than the demand for food of the population. But more often we see that some dishonest business syndicates make artificial crisis of food in the market in order to sell the essentials at higher prices. Poor people in the country bear the most brunt of the artificial crisis of food.
On top of that, there is a wide gap between the livelihoods of the rich and the poor. The rich are found to waste huge food products everyday while the poor have hardly access to their minimum requirements. As food security is not properly distributed, the children and women in the poor families undergo malnutrition and starvation.
Studies have revealed that the city people waste more food in their everyday life. The menace of food waste in Dhaka city has been so acute due to population rising and unsustainable consumption behaviour. The affluent people in the city store foods many times than what they actually need. After a certain time these foods lose their usability. These wasted food items are thrown into the waste bins. On top of that, a huge amount of food is being wasted at restaurants, community centers, hospitals and many more public get-together or programs every day.
A recent study has revealed that the bad culture of food wasting has increased terribly at wedding programmes in the country. At any weeding the guests are served more than they usually take in their normal meal. Besides, some guests who fill up their plates with excessive food but cannot eat out completely resulting in huge food loss.
In this regard, can we deny the responsibility of the hosts and awareness of the guests? However, a few cases are really appreciative when we see that a group of volunteers are involved in distributing food among homeless people and underprivileged children collecting the food left over from weeding or any programmes in the city.
Every year World Food Day is observed on October 16 to make the global community aware of hunger and healthy food habits. Different UN organizations are playing a key role with a motto that no one in the world will be left hungry. But unwise acts related to food consumption and food management behaviours hardly address the global food waste crisis.
However, food waste menace should be tackled by any means. Because if this crisis continues, the increasing people in the world have to face a dire food catastrophe in the coming years. There is no alternative to raising public awareness to reduce food waste. Apart from this, experts claim that to tackle climate change, nature and biodiversity loss, and pollution it is a must to reduce food waste.
Recently Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has urged people to stop wasting food as many countries are going to face a famine-like situation. In recent years many initiatives have been taken by the government to address food loss and wastage across the agricultural value chain. The more important thing is to make people aware of food waste which exacerbates world hunger crisis. It is time to combat food waste which will make us benefitted economically and sustainable environmentally.

The writer teaches at Prime University. He is also a research scholar at the IBS. Email: [email protected]