UN Food and Agriculture Organisation conference discusses the issue of food security in the countries of the region, and how to chart out a strategy for sustainable management of water resources.
Think, eat, save’ is the theme the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has initiated to reduce food wastage by the consumer. The FAO’s 32nd Regional Conference discussed the issue of food security in the countries of the region, and how to chart out a strategy for sustainable management of water resources at a time the region faces water scarcity due to less rains and scarce natural resources, said Dr Jamal Al Fakhri, economic expert at the Department of Economic Development (DED) in Dubai.
The important points the conference covered were ways of curbing wastage and loss of food so as to curb hunger and nutritional shortage. According to the FAO data, the average food wasted by an Arab individual is estimated at 250kg per year, compared to about 70kg in other parts of the world.
“The food loss is the quantities of food which are lost in the process of being delivered to the consumer, while wastage refers to the quantities which reach the consumer with the required quality but are not consumed and, for one reason or another, are disposed of,” said Dr Al Fakhri.
“The conference cast light on a slew of factors, the foremost being the consumers’ attitude which is influenced by customs such as excessive generosity when holding banquets, making a larger quantity of food than required during feasts, and trashing the leftovers. The huge quantity of food that is lost and wasted in welfare societies is also another factor. It shows consumers fail in planning their shopping, purchase more than required or hoard products without looking at their expiry dates.”
Since the issue is important, social awareness must be created about ways to maintain food products and reduce wastage of water and the food items that are imported. According to figures released by the FAO, Near East and North Africa regions import 36 million tonnes of wheat per annum of which 16 million tonnes are wasted, a quantity that is sufficient, according to the organisation, to feed a population of 70 million to 100 million.
“Therefore, we call on the consumer to be highly knowledgeable and aware of the importance of ensuring that he/she purchases only according to the actual need and not hoard easily damageable or perishable goods. Ensure the validity dates of all products he/she wants to buy, as wastage in any quantity of food expends the household income. Suppliers and traders should also leverage coordination with the relevant entities in the phases of production and marketing of food, as well as review the plans pertaining to the handling, and sale, storing, marketing and consumption of food.
They should also improve the awareness of the major consuming groups like restaurants, hotels, schools and universities. All those dealing in food sale should be trained, and the leftovers of food must be made use of after being processed and converted into fodders for animals or processing industries.”