Food wastage – A leading cause of poverty

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It’s said that there is more fruit in a rich man’s shampoo than in a poor man’s plate. In a world covered with 31% forest area, 13.5% of the population suffer undernourishment. Almost one third of the food produced around the world is never consumed.

The Global Report on Food Crisis, 2017 compiles the food insecurity around the world every year. This year four countries – South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, North East Nigeria are identified as possible countries to be affected by famine. If you had ever heard of a country called Yemen, it has 27.58 million population with 14.1 million people suffering from the food crisis which is as high as 50%.

A country might go into a food crisis due to different reasons. It might be due to armed conflicts (Yemen- 3.2M/14.1M) or natural disasters. Food insecurity is generally measured on a scale of < 0.5->2.0. Most of the African countries fall into this bracket along with countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Tibet, Afghanistan and Burma. The situation in Africa is further worsened by the superstitious beliefs like accusing the children of witch craft and deserting them away from the normal society.

Each year approximately 1.3 billion tons of food is getting wasted in the world accounting to $990 billion dollars each year. On a happy note, the wastage per capita in South Asian countries is approximately 6-11Kgs when compared to 95-115Kgs in Europe and North America. This scarcity is resulting in one person’s death in every 3.6 seconds out of which 75% are children. To give a frame of reference, in Europe an average person wastes 375 boxes of meals per year. This is throwing a meal box every day.
Though Indian Food Security Law covers 67% of the population, the right to highly subsidised food grains, 25% of the world’s hungry poor still stay in India. Laws has been made to spend Rs.125000 Cr. each year for the supply of 62 million tonnes of basic grains. Yet, the time it will take and the funds required to change the current situation in India is still unpredictable. India has already seen 10 greatest famines in the history including the Bengal famine of 1943.

Food production also requires water. So, in a way, we waste water as well by wasting food. This water can serve all the world needs. To talk business, the production cost, manufacturing/processing cost, packaging cost, logistics cost and marketing cost everything goes waste. The major items that account into food wastage every year are the fruits and vegetables. So, what exactly can be done about this problem?

Here are some possible ways to avoid food wastage

  • Make better purchasing decisions – More conscious you are about your meal requirements, less tendency to buy excess grocery and lesser the wastage of food.
  • Recycling of food – Most of the famous food outlets now adopt food recycling techniques. Compact food recyclers are available for household usage
  • Serve smaller portions – In restaurants and at home, serve smaller portions which can reduce food wastage as you can always serve second time. Try to pack the leftover food at restaurants and donate to hungry on roads.
  • Better production and storage techniques – Higher yield and longer storage facilities can increase food production and time of consumption of the food.
  • Discounted price for unsellable but edible fruits or vegetables in super market. It is seen that fruits and vegetables of irregular shapes are not sold. These can be either sold at lower prices or donated to the needy.

In the history, Norman Borlaug, father of green revolution has saved 1 billion people from starvation by inventing modernised and advanced techniques to develop high yield variety of grains and fertilizers. M.S. Swaminathan played a crucial role in India by adopting the same and further developing High Yield Varieties of seeds. Verghese Kurien’s white revolution idea of Operation flood – world’s largest dairy development program also helped address the food crisis in the past.
If one cautious step of yours towards the food can save one life, it is definitely more sacred than any offering to god. As it is always said, helping hands are better than praying lips. It’s not the prayers that we need for those people its self-realization and awareness creation. There is enough food in this world. It just has to be utilised or served well.

Article Originally Written by Bommineni Jyothirmaie Reddy

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