‘In general, one-third of the food produced is lost’ said Tanja Pickardt during a presentation at Tropentag. According to FAO
, loss varies with type of the food produced. For example, the loss in grain is less as compared to fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. Pickardt said that it is necessary to quantify the food loss before making policy decisions, but it is very difficult to quantify the actual quantity of food wasted. To illustrate this point, she showed a video by FAO titled "Food Wastage Footprint 2"
. The environmental and social consequences are more difficult to quantify than economic losses. Also in this video, we can see different ways to reduce food loss and alternative uses of wasted food.
Besides actual food waste, there are additional inefficiencies in agricultural production. In one example, rice is grown as a staple crop for subsistence by Nigerian farmers. According to Pickardt, post harvest rice waste is maximum during parboiling. Moreover, the traditional method of parboiling puts pressure on forests for fuelwood. She stressed that use of rice-husk as fuel for parboiling decreases pressure on forest while also utilizing some of the waste products in production. However, with unmet demand from domestic production, more rice is imported from India. Unfortunately, the Indian rice production system contributes more green house gases to environment than Nigerian production system.
Her presentation set off alarm bells in each participant’s mind, for the reduction of food loss at farm, industrial, consumer and all levels of food chain. Reduction of food loss helps to reduce the retail price of food. Besides, it reduces pressure on natural resources
and saves them for the generations to come.
*Tanja Pickardt works for Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Germany.
Photo credit: Rice grains in bowl. Nigeria. Photo: Arne Hoel / World Bank