Announcing the campaign, Hiroyuki Konuma, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) director general and regional representative for Asia-Pacific, said the ‘Save Food Asia-Pacific Campaign’ would raise awareness about the high levels of food waste.
While focus will mainly be given to post-harvest food losses, market-to-consumer food waste will also be targeted.
Konuma said: “The FAO estimates that if the food wasted or lost globally could be reduced by just one quarter, this would be sufficient to feed the 870m people suffering from chronic hunger in the world.”
The launch of the campaign took place at a recent two-day consultation on food losses, which was attended by 130 people from 20 countries. The consultation aims to look at ways to reduce food loss and waste, which will issue a guidance action on how to save food from farm to table.
Konuma claimed that the world produces enough food meet the demand from its 7bn population, but said 868m people (12.5%) were going hungry every day, citing Asia-Pacific as one of the most afflicted regions. “In 2012, the Asia-Pacific region was home to 536 million hungry people, or 62% of the world’s undernourished.”
Yet Konuma also noted that a recent flux in economic growth in the region this century had not helped, and said hunger and poverty were still an issue “because the benefits of economic growth were unevenly distributed”.
Also speaking at the food loss consultation, Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister and minister of agriculture and cooperatives Yukol Limlamthong said the region needed to raise global awareness on the critical issue of food loss.
“The government of Thailand is deeply committed to working with FAO and with other partners and stakeholders in the region to promote the security of the region and also of the world,” Limlamthong added.
Meanwhile, the Indian geneticist Mankombu Sambasivan Swaminathan explained that food waste, as well as being a waste of nourishment, was a waste of natural resources, like land and water. He said: “To a great extent, food losses and waste are symbolic of the inefficiencies of food systems. [This is] why food losses and waste are becoming so central to discussions on both food security and sustainable development.”
The FAO’s ‘Save Food Campaign Asia-Pacific’ is an ongoing campaign and aims to teach consumers to have more respect for food and to stop wasting precious commodities.