FAO Regional Office for Near East and North Africa

Conference on "Food Waste in Tunisia: Challenges and Ways to Reduce"

Awareness at the Heart of the Fight against Food Waste

Tunis 13 December 2018 - The conference, organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in collaboration with the National Institute of Consumption (INC) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Hydraulic Resources and Fisheries, crowns the work already begun by several local and regional partners in the fight against food waste, and brings all the strategic partners to the table in an effort to win the battle.

The INC's efforts since 2016 on food waste, especially the waste of bread, have been supplemented by the financial support of the Italian Agency for International Cooperation and Development. Since 2017 the Italian agency has worked with FAO to complete an evaluation of the losses and waste of grain and dairy products, as part of the project "Reducing Food Losses and Waste and Developing Value Chains for Food Security in Egypt and Tunisia".

Mr. Mohamed Amrani, FAO Coordinator for North Africa, reaffirmed that the loss and waste of agricultural and food products represents a significant shortfall for the different actors at all levels of the value chain and a waste of natural resources and the means of production.

He also noted that the prevention and reduction of these losses could also provide an opportunity for job creation and added value, thereby improving incomes and enhancing food security as well as allowing a better organization of the agricultural sectors.

FAO organized this regional conference on November 22 in Tunisia, with experts sharing their experiences and best practices in reducing waste along food value chains, including food banks. In Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen, young people have introduced creative ideas and innovative electronic applications (“Gaspi Stop”), schools have successfully piloted projects (Lycée Gustave Flaubert-La Marsa) and NGOs have worked to eliminate waste (Zero Waste).

The presence of the Minister of Commerce, Mr. Omar El Behi, at the inauguration of the conference marked a strong point, confirming the support of the Ministry for all measures that can reduce the scourge of food waste, especially that of cereal products, including bread.

The Minister noted that all stakeholders should engage in the fight against the phenomena of food waste, which causes annual losses exceeding 570 million Dinars, paid by the government and citizen due to bad eating habits.

He added that many health indicators prove the expansion of bad eating habits, which calls for putting together a national action plan for fighting food waste in all of its forms, with the active engagement of all parties with the aim of reducing the cost of food loss and rationalize food consumption.

Cereal products are of great importance for national food security and for the country's trade balance. In 2017, a joint study by the FAO, the Ministry of Agriculture and Hydraulic Resources and the INC estimated the food wastage at the level of the university restaurants, where an average of 6% of the dishes are discarded. Students waste an average of 93% of bread and 70% say they consume more than their needs. The post-harvest loss rates of cereals vary on average from 3.6% in the Bizerte region to 5.4% in Siliana. For the milk value chain, loss rates averaged 9% in Bizerte and 6.5% in Mahdia.

To address these losses and waste, FAO and its partners have developed action plans based on a participatory approach. The project, launched in 2016, began a second phase in 2018 on capacity building for university restaurant managers, bakers and school teachers, and on raising awareness among students and women, especially rural women.

This conference, which brought together participants from different countries of the region, allowed for an exchange of experience and a rich debate on ways and means to be put in place to reduce food waste. It resulted in several recommendations for improvement, the main ones being the importance of communication and awareness-raising to move towards responsible waste management, adequate legislation to encourage different partners to take action, concrete measures against waste, improvement of distribution channels, capacity building to reduce food waste (especially among those responsible for university restaurants and bakeries), and the development of the skills of those in charge of the reduction of food waste.

The establishment of an anti-waste day was also one of the recommendations of the Director General of the National Institute of Consumption, Mr. Tarek Ben Jazia, and he is hoping to celebrate it for the first time in 2019 before the month of Ramadan.


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