The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the CGIAR research program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets (PIM) has launched a new initiative to enhance global cooperation on measuring and reducing food loss and waste. This follows a request by agriculture ministers from several countries at a G20 summit in Turkey earlier in the year.
As per FAO estimates, over 40 per cent of root crops, fruits and vegetables are lost or wasted, along with 35 per cent of fish, 30 per cent of cereals and 20 per cent of oilseeds, meat, and dairy products. FAO studies have also shown that food wastage is responsible for the release of billions of tonne of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, consuming some 250 km3 of water and 1.4 billion hectare of land each year.
“The G20 Platform will enhance our capacity to accurately measure food loss and waste, both in the G20 countries and in low-income countries,” said FAO director-general José Graziano da Silva. “It will bring new expertise and knowledge for improving metrics. It will also respond to countries’ need for knowledge and good practices.”
“We must coordinate global efforts to reduce food loss and waste to enhance our ability to sustainably eliminate global hunger and undernutrition,” said IFPRI director-general Shenggen Fan. “This new platform is a critical step in this direction.”
Currently, one-third of global food production – enough food to feed two billion people for a year – is lost or wasted annually. The G20 agriculture ministers noted the significant food loss and waste throughout food value chains as “a global problem of enormous economic, environmental and societal significance.”
According to an official statement, the initiative will enable the following:
- Lead efforts to improve the measurement of food loss and waste
- Build capacity to reduce food loss and waste in G20 countries as well as in lower-income nations. This capacity building effort includes “South-South” knowledge transfers
- Provide evidence-based advocacy on the scope, causes and costs of food loss and waste
- Monitor global developments on food loss and waste
- Provide multi-agency advisory and technical assistance for work on food loss and waste at the request of governments
- Build on and complement existing mechanisms, such as the Global Community of Practice on Food Loss Reduction, run jointly out of Rome by FAO, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Food Programme as well as the World Resources Institute’s Food Loss and Waste Protocol.