Bangkok, Thailand, 29 Aug 2013 -- FAO’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific in collaboration with the Asian Institute of Technology and other partners launched the Save Food Asia-Pacific campaign yesterday, which aims to reduce post-harvest food losses and market-to-consumer food waste. The regional initiative will raise awareness about the high levels of food losses – particularly post-harvest losses - and the growing problem of food waste in the region.
The launch came at the end of a two-day High-Level Multi-Stakeholder Consultation on Food Losses and Food Waste in Asia and the Pacific Region that was attended by more than 130 participants from 20 countries, including four Agriculture Ministers. The Consultation also produced a joint communiqué that delegates adopted by consensus yesterday, saying, in part: “In instances where food is spoiled or fails to meet standards at harvest and along the supply chain, we agree to promote solutions that rely on improving the knowledge base of stakeholders in food supply chains, and on the improvement of infrastructure, development of appropriate farm machinery, bulk packaging, storage, processing, transportation systems and logistics, etc. For those improvements, Governments should create a better enabling environment to stimulate the private sector to invest in the food industry.”
The communiqué also called for “the formulation of conducive policies and the creation of an investment climate.”
Regarding the retail and food service sectors, the communiqué said “we encourage companies to improve practices of planning, procurement, packaging, marketing and sales. In view of consumers wasting food, we campaign for greater respect for food and behavior change of consumers.”
FAO estimates that if the food wasted or lost globally could be reduced by just one quarter, this would be sufficient to feed the 870 million people suffering from chronic hunger in the world.
“The world produces more or less sufficient food to meet the demand of its current population of 7 billion. However, 12.5 percent of the global population, or 868 million people, equivalent to one in eight people, go hungry every day. In 2012, the Asia-Pacific region was home to 536 million hungry people, or 62 percent of the world’s undernourished,” according to Hiroyuki Konuma, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific.
While the Asia-Pacific region benefitted from rapid economic growth in the first decade of the 21st century, successful economic growth did not bring an end to hunger and poverty. The benefits of economic growth were unevenly distributed and as a result the income gap in many countries in the region grew. In 2010, 653 million people across the region lived below the national poverty line according to statistics from the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.
In the communiqué, delegates agreed “to undertake a campaign, using various tools including communication materials and platforms to advocate against the negative consequences of food losses and food waste, and raise awareness of the importance of saving food, saying: With the SAVE FOOD ASIA-PACIFIC CAMPAIGN, we pledge to work together and create regional and national multi-stakeholder networks towards reducing food losses– along the food supply chain and fight the growing problem of food waste. The fight against food loss and food waste concerns everyone - everyone can contribute.”
The Strategic Actions document, also adopted yesterday, recommended that governments “recognise the strategic importance of reducing food losses and particularly post-harvest losses and food waste as a measure to address food security in the region; prioritise the reduction of food losses- particularly post-harvest losses and food waste issues in their country strategic plans for agricultural development; and, governments should work toward the creation of an enabling environment that is supportive of food loss reduction. Policy objectives to meet that end must integrate consideration for the development of basic and post-harvest specific infrastructure and food safety and quality regulations.”
In addition to Konuma, the two-day High-Level Consultation was opened by Yukol Limlamthong, Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Indian geneticist M.S. Swaminathan and Worasak Kanok-Nukulchai, Interim President and Professor at the Asian Institute of Technology.
The Save Food Campaign Asia-Pacific will be an on-going advocacy initiative that will appeal to consumers to have more respect for food and to stop wasting this precious commodity.