Food Waste and World Hunger

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Have you ever thought that the food waste you dispose of after each meal could be someone’s most precious wish in a different side of the world? World hunger is not about insufficient food production. On the contrary, the world’s annual food production of agricultural crops, livestock, and even processed foods, is sufficient to feed the entire world population. However, one-third of produced food is wasted.

Wasting food is in many forms; it is not just the food wasted while cooking or the residues disposed of after meals. It actually starts as early as harvest, especially in developing countries where large quantities of crops often rot due to lack of storage facilities. Also, these countries lack modern technological means and machinery that help protect agricultural crops before harvest, which makes them more vulnerable to pests.

Accordingly, the UN has undertaken the elimination of world hunger by half as one of its goals for 2030. World hunger is not only due to shortage of food or food waste though; even in countries that do not suffer shortage of food, hungry people still exist. In many poor countries that neither suffer shortage of food nor famines, people spend more than 80% of their income on food that is mostly poor in nutrients; they are obliged to give up other necessities of life such as education and health. Moreover, when faced with financial hardship, they might give up some of their meals, eventually ending up in hunger.

There are several solutions proposed to eliminate world hunger; some are easy and some are difficult to carry out. Famous examples include:

  1. Ending land evisceration: Some rich countries that do not own enough arable land tend to take advantage of the land that poor countries—including Ethiopia, Madagascar, and Sudan—do not have the means to farm.
  2. Supporting farmers in poor countries: This is necessary because lack of technology and modern farming techniques lead to significant damage to agricultural crops. Research has shown that African farmers are less productive than American counterparts due to the previously-mentioned factors. As such, it is important to support those farmers through workshops tackling modern farming and storage techniques, or support them financially to purchase the tools required to increase productivity and control agricultural pests.
  3. Raising awareness about food wasting: It starts with parents teaching their children to eat moderate quantities of food and not waste it. The remaining food can be packed and given to the poor in the neighborhood, orphanages, or charity societies. On a larger scale, awareness campaigns targeting citizens can be organized, including advertisements that show the negative effects of food wasting on the local and international communities. Also, ideas regarding how to end food waste and deliver it to those in need can be proposed.
  4. Supporting women in poor countries: Teaching women some handcrafts can help them increase their income and afford better food for themselves and their children. Women also should be supported to protect their children from malnutrition diseases, and shortage of foods rich with high nutritional values.

We should not wait for international organizations and governments to take action regarding hunger and food waste; we must start with ourselves, putting an end to wasting food at our own homes as a positive step towards the eradication of world hunger.

References
mercycorps.org
theguardian.com
wfpusa.org

*Published in SCIplanet, Summer 2019 issue.

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