FAO enhances awareness to reduce food loss and waste

11/06/2013 - 

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)  is encouraging the use of metal silos to reduce food loss and waste. This is the statement provided during the World Environment Day celebrations held in Kisumu, Kenya. This year’s theme is “Think. Eat. Save. Reduce your Foodprint”. The “Think. Eat. Save” campaign of the Save Food Initiative is a partnership between the United Nations Environment programme (UNEP), FAO and the Messe Dusseldorf group. The initiative also supports the UN Secretary-General’s Zero Hunger Challenge.

At present at least one third of all food produced fails to make if from farm to table. In Kenya,  especially in eastern arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs), many factors contribute to food loss including: inadequate storage and cooling facilities in difficult climatic conditions; pests; financial, managerial and technical limitations in harvesting techniques; packaging and marketing systems; and inefficient supply chains. “Farmers typically store grains in burlap bags and wooden containers, both easily susceptible to insect and mold infestation,” says Paul Omanga, FAO crops officer.

“If we can help food producers to reduce losses through better harvesting, processing, storage, transport and marketing methods, and combine this with profound and lasting changes in the way people consume food, then we can have a healthier and hunger-free Kenya,” he added.

Making his presentation at the FAO exhibition booth during the celebrations, Omanga demonstrated that farmers, with improved storage using metal silos, are able to store more grain for food, allowing them to cope better during dry conditions, as well as to sell surplus at higher market prices, improving income.

This in turn helps reduce food loss and wastage. Food loss is the food that gets spilled, spoilt or otherwise lost, or incurs reduction of quality and value, before it reaches its final product stage. Food waste on the other hand is the food that completes the food supply chain up to a final product, of good quality and fit for consumption, but still doesn’t get consumed because it is discarded, whether or not after it is left to spoil. Large quantities of food are wasted due to quality standards that over-emphasize appearance, confusion over date labels and consumers being quick to throw away edible food due to over-buying, inappropriate storage and preparing meals that are too large.

Achieving food security for all is at the heart of FAO's efforts - to make sure people have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives. The introduction of metal silos, a technology used for the post-harvest storage of grains, has proved suitable for food security.

Metal silos have many advantages. They help maintain the quality of the stored product. Being airtight, the use of insecticides is not necessary, and they keep rodents and other pests away. The silos enable farmers to take advantage of fluctuating grain prices by being able to store grain until market conditions are optimal. Metal silos are easy to use, profitable and an effective tool in support of food security and the fight against hunger.

Present at the event organized by the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) was Alice Kaudia, Environment Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources. Kaudia stated that the Government encourages those involved in food production and consumption to invest in food that's suitable to the different socio- economic levels of consumers. She urged everyone to be selfless in saving food and reducing food wastage. “Together, we can reverse this unacceptable trend and improve lives,” she underlined.

FAO has been promoting the use of metal silos and providing related training through government extension services, field schools and farmer groups, allowing evaluation and adoption by farmers over time.

Submitted by: Emah Madegwa (FAOKE)
FAO Office: FAO Kenya
Country: Kenya