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Waste and world hunger: You can help

Waste and world hunger: You can help

Dec 13, 2013

By 2050, the world will need to produce around 70% more food than it does now in order to maintain food security. “This is a very urgent reality that every single person on the planet needs to be aware of and, in some sense, help towards achieving,” says Dr Shadrack Moephuli, president and chief executive officer of the Agricultural Research Council (ARC), South Africa.

The alternatives are not good: Sweeping famine, poverty, and political instability that always accompanies these issues. It should also be noted that 37% of global employment comes from the agricultural sector.

Hunger is the single biggest obstacle the world faces. If current trends continue, by 2040 Africa’s labour force will rival that of China and yet, the continent is only producing 10% of the world’s farmed crops and goods even while Africa is home to 60% of the Earth’s uncultivated arable land.
To change this, productivity must be increased – which means that in Africa and South Africa better access to markets are needed and government policy needs reviewing.

“Climate change directly threatens agricultural productivity – floods, storms and drought can easily cause an unmitigated disaster,” says Moephuli. Global warming is also causing changes in the precipitation pattern globally, water usage needs to be reduced and soil erosion prevented. “We need to use science and technology to find solutions that will enable sustainable increases in agricultural production and productivity.”

Take a look at these disturbing statistics:
• 842 million people – or one in eight people in the world – do not have enough to eat
• 98% of the world’s undernourished people live in developing countries
• Where is hunger the worst?
o Asia: 552 million
o Sub-Saharan Africa: 223 million
o Latin America and the Caribbean: 47 million

What can I do to make a difference?

Reducing waste – even on a personal level – can help to solve the problem of food security. ”Reducing waste is imperative in South Africa as millions of people exist on one meal a day or less, even though our constitution promises the right to sufficient food and water,” says senior council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Suzan Oelofse.

Each one of us help – even in a small way – to reduce waste. Here’s how:

  • Support businesses, restaurants and organisations that are “waste aware” and that find innovative ways to control their waste.
  • Consider growing your own veggies and pick-as-you-need, rather than buying a pocket of potatoes that expires long before you can finish them.
  • Become educated about the food you consume and where it comes from – try to “eat local” wherever possible.
  • Make an effort to support local farmers and eat in-season foods – this drives the price of food down and makes it more accessible to everyone.
  • Support policies and political processes aimed at reducing food insecurity.
  • When ordering food in a restaurant or take-away store, order what you know you can eat rather than wasting a large portion.

Never think that huge changes can’t come from small changes by thousands of people. Encourage your family and friends to become aware of how much food they waste, and perhaps by foods together to save on costs. Make a point of noting how much food you throw away every week and take steps to change that

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