The International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste was marked on Friday under the theme ‘Stop food loss and waste for the people for the planet.’
This commemoration creates a unique opportunity to devise the right solutions to address the challenge of food loss in order to achieve food and nutrition security.
Techno Serve, Food Banking Kenya, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the World Resources Institute (WIR), and other partners have come together to continue creating awareness of food loss and food waste as well as achieving sustainable food systems for better production and nutrition.
According to statistics, 1.3 billion tonnes of food are wasted annually. In Kenya alone, 30 to 40% of our food is wasted per year, creating huge losses in the economy and an increase in hunger across the world.
Crop Development Principal Secretary (PS) Kello Harsama said, “The theme of this day gives a strong message, requiring a multi-sectoral approach to ensuring food and nutritional security for our country.”
The PS explained that post-harvest management has been a major challenge in Kenya’s agricultural sector, where an estimated Sh70 billion is lost annually from production to consumption.
He noted that the critical loss points of food across the value chain are at production, during harvesting, transportation, storage, and marketing.
“The effort towards achieving food security in this country has not yet been achieved due to inadequate capacity for primary food management and inadequate knowledge on food waste management,” Harsama said.
He further stated that there is a need to focus our attention on achieving food and nutrition security.
FAO representative in Kenya, Carla Mucavi, said that it is critical to support the farmers in addressing this challenge of food waste.
She added that the main ambition of FAO is to end hunger by 2030, saying that this is only possible with the help of partnerships.
“Climate change has severely impacted food security and nutrition. The expected El Nino rains will certainly worsen food loss and waste; we need to adapt and mitigate climate change. The food that we work so hard to produce cannot go to waste,” said Mucavi.
She was quick to mention that Kenya has recently faced a severe drought that has really affected the country due to the lack of rainfall, with an estimated 4.6 million people affected by this, adding that there is no better time than today to spread awareness.
Mucavi said that FAO has curated a strategic framework for 2022–2031, to support the government of Kenya in creating a more efficient food system for better production and nutrition.
World Resources Institute (WRI) representative Beryl Ajwang noted that, as an organisation, they consider food waste to be a moral, economic, and environmental issue.
She complained that the amount of fertiliser and pesticides that the farmers put into crops to ensure that we have food on the table is a lot.
“Businesses lose a lot of money because of the amount of food that goes to waste,” said Ajwang.
She added that the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that are experienced because of the waste food that ends up in landfills is alarming.
University of Nairobi Vice Chancellor Prof. Kiama Gitahi said that the university, in partnership with FAO, is working towards setting up a centre on agriculture technology and innovation to educate farmers.
“Waste is a big problem, and it is frustrating because farmers are working very hard. We, as scholars, must provide the solutions that are needed. We need practical solutions to tackle food security,” said Gitahi.
By Stephannie Ndunge