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Food wastage a cause of concern: UNEP

Last Updated: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 - 19:12

Hyderabad: Wastage of food all over the world is a cause of concern and countries need to invest in increasing storage capacities to meet the food requirements of future, a top official of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has said.

The issue will be taken up during the Governing Council meeting in February next year, UNEP Deputy Executive Director and UN Assistant Secretary General Amina Mohamed said.

"We are raising the awareness among countries on food wastage and telling the governments and others to pay attention to it. In some developing countries it is an issue of distribution and storage," Mohamed said on the sidelines of the eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 11) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) being held here.

"This problem is going to increase in future if we don`t take steps now. We are raising the issue with governments and hopefully will raise it during our governing council meeting," she added.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in its recent report said one-third of the food produced in the world for human consumption is thrown away or lost, as well as the natural resources used for its production.

Food losses and waste amount to roughly USD 680 billion in industrialised countries and USD 310 billion in developing countries.

Save Food - a global initiative on food losses and waste reduction - aims to check the estimated 1.3 billion tonnes of food lost or wasted every year, with annual losses valued at nearly USD 1 trillion. The campaign currently has over 50 partners.

In developing countries, food losses hit small farmers the hardest, FAO stated. Almost 65 per cent of the losses happen at the production, post-harvest and processing stages.

However, in industrialised countries, food waste often occurs at the retail and consumer levels due to a "throw-away" mindset.

Per capita waste by consumers is between 95-115 kilograms a year in Europe and North America, while consumers in sub-Saharan Africa and South-Southeast Asia throw away 6-11 kgs a year, the report said.

The UN official added, "the issue of adding value to food items is also important."

Replying to a query, Mohamed said UNEP is also focusing on reducing `dead zones` on ocean surface as a result of excessive fishing and climate change.

Dead zones on ocean surface are areas where fishery resources have depleted or died and, in some areas, even oxygen levels have nearly bottomed out.


First Published: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 - 19:12

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