Better systems would cut food waste, FAO says

16 Oct 2013

Better systems would cut food waste, FAO says

16 October 2013 - Much food is wasted in South Sudan due to lack of storage, processing and packaging facilities as well as transport to market, according to a statement issued today by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

“The development of sustainable food systems would help to reduce these sources of waste,” notes the statement to mark World Food Day, which is being celebrated under the theme “Sustainable Food Systems for Food Security and Nutrition”.

The statement notes that food systems include production, processing, transport, distribution and consumption of food, and recurrent shocks, from farm to plate.

Making these systems sustainable means reducing environmental impacts and protecting Biodiversity, which would “contribute to food and nutritional security and support healthy lives between present and the future populations,” the FAO says.

But food processes are challenged by changing climate conditions, reduced crop yields, dependence on nonrenewable sources of energy like oil and minerals, and increasingly concentrated ownership of the international food trade.

The FAO in South Sudan is seeking to implement sustainable food production and transformation by helping women and men manage their daily lives,” says the statement.

Traditional farming and women’s access to land must be reconsidered, especially in developing countries, it adds. “Women who receive basic education and training in sustainable farming and food production technologies are more able to improve the nutritional status and health of their families.”

Improved food systems are also the key to better nutrition, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says in his message for the Day, noting that two billion people suffer from the “hidden hunger” of malnutrition. “Poor nutrition also means some 1.4 billion people are overweight, with about one-third obese and at risk of coronary heart disease, diabetes or other health problems.”

Better food systems should include smarter approaches and investments directed at the environment, people, institutions and processes to produce agricultural products, processed and brought to consumers in a sustainable manner, Mr. Ban says.

There was also evidence from many countries that hunger and malnutrition could be quickly reduced by direct measures, according to a statement by FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva.

“These include school meals programmes and cash transfers to the poorest families to enable them to bridge their food gap and so stand on their own feet. By translating food needs into demand, such programmes can stimulate local markets for small-scale farmers,” says Mr. da Silva.