The United Nations says the world wastes enough food to feed an estimated two billion people.
This was contained in a joint new online report by the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Food Programme, launched on Friday in Rome.
The report, entitled: Global Community of Practice on Food Loss Reduction, was produced with the goal of becoming “a global reference point” in the facilitation of information sharing between stakeholders such as public entities, civil society and the private sector.
In the report, Maria Semedo, the FAO Deputy-Director-General for Natural Resources, said that with more than 800 million people in the world still suffering from hunger, saving food was of paramount importance.
Semedo said: “When food is saved, the resources used to produce it are saved. Reducing waste and losses by not creating these in the first place should be a priority for all.”
According to UN estimates, roughly 30 per cent of global food production, that is 40 per cent to 50 per cent of root crops, fruits and vegetables, 20 per cent of oil seeds, meat and dairy products and 35 per cent of fish, are either lost or wasted.
These loss in food items, amounting to some 1.3 billion tonnes, was enough to feed two billion people, it added.
Commenting on the report, IFAD Vice-President, Michel Mordasini, said global efforts to reduce the `”unacceptably high” rates of food loss must also be wholistic.
Mordasini pointed to the role of smallholder farmers who, he said, were “most vulnerable.
“Available technical solutions have to be made accessible and affordable to those farming communities.
“I am therefore encouraged by the fact that the Global Community of Practice on Food Losses will engage with and tap into the knowledge of farmers and practitioners, as well as researchers, development agencies and policymakers.”
On September 16, the three UN agencies said more than 800 million people suffer from hunger.
The State of Food Insecurity in the World Report was released in Rome by FAO, IFAD and WFP.
The report noted how access to food improved rapidly and significantly in countries that experienced economic progress, notably in Eastern and South-Eastern Asia.
Access to food also improved in Southern Asia and Latin America, but mainly in countries with adequate safety nets and other forms of social protection.
In spite of significant progress overall, several regions and sub-regions were lagging behind.
“In Sub-Saharan Africa, more than one in four people remain chronically undernourished, while in Asia, the world’s most populous region, is home to majority of the hungry – 526 million people,” according to the report
With the number of undernourished people remaining “unacceptably high”, the agency stressed the need to renew the political commitment to tackle hunger and to transform it into concrete actions.
Latin America and the Caribbean made the greatest overall strides in increasing food security, while Oceania accomplished only a modest improvement, the report stated.
The FAO, IFAD and WFP report also specified that hunger eradication required establishing an enabling environment and an integrated approach.
Meanwhile, the Second International Conference on Nutrition in Rome from November 19 to 21, which FAO is jointly organising with the WHO, will focus on the report.
The high-level intergovernmental meeting seeks renewed political commitment to combat malnutrition with the overall goal of improving diets and raising nutrition levels.