Sunday, 19 September 2021 11:49 GMT

Hunger amidst waste: The global food divide gets wider


(MENAFN - Gulf Times) Global hunger, worsened by the raging pandemic, is brought about not by the paucity of food, but amid the mindless waste of it.
Annually, an estimated 2.5bn tonnes of food is lost on farms or wasted by retailers or consumers globally, accounting for about 40% of production, according to research by World Wildlife Fund and UK retailer Tesco.
Here’s the disturbing other side of the lingering tragedy.
Across the world, approximately 1.2bn people live in extreme poverty, on less than $1 per day, according to a 2018 World Health Organisation report.
At least 17mn children suffer from severe acute malnutrition around the world, which is the direct cause of death for 2mn children every year.
A previous report by the Food and Agriculture Organisation had found that one-third of all food produced — around 1.3bn tonnes a year — is lost or wasted. It costs the global economy close to $940bn each year.
Make no mistake, the great food divide is only getting wider despite decades of commendable efforts by global relief agencies and non-profits.
Researchers for years have been trying to piece together data on the true extent of food waste, which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says accounts for as much as 10% of global greenhouse-gas emissions.
The last comprehensive analysis of the total loss and waste from farm to fork was conducted by the FAO in 2011 and pegged it at about 33%.
Contrary to previous assumptions that food loss on farms was an issue mainly for poorer regions, the WWF report shows that high- and middle-income countries of Europe, North America and industrialised Asia contribute 58% of the global harvest waste.
The report called on governments and food companies to adopt the so-called Target-Measure Act approach to reducing the problem. 
The strategy envisages businesses setting food waste reduction targets, measuring and reporting surplus and waste, and taking action in their operations and from suppliers and consumers.
Global commodities markets have seen huge inflows of investment since the 2008 global financial crisis, looking for better returns. With automated trading systems meticulously looking to exploit tiny flaws in the market, food prices are often volatile, even amid a global glut.
The pandemic has exposed some of the world’s deepest inequalities. It’s also a determining force behind who gets to eat and who doesn’t, while the richest keep enjoying a breakneck pace of wealth accumulation.
The UN has warned that the global food problem is worsening and some nations in Africa and the Middle East could soon slip into famine with conflicts, economic hardships, weather extremes — and now the Covid-19 crisis — limiting access to food.
It has also stirred memories of 2008 and 2011, when price spikes led to food riots in more than 30 nations. 
Make no mistake societies tend to unravel when people are starving.
Globally, individual households are responsible for more than half of the food wasted, according to the United Nations Environment Programme.
It all boils down to an easy, cost-effective way to mitigate global hunger and slow down climate change. And it can be accomplished without even leaving the house too:“Don’t waste food.”

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