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UN food agency urges Asia-pacific to stem food losses

28 August 2013 03:20 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Around 35 percent of food is lost between harvest and distribution across the Asia-Pacific region, depriving millions of nutrition, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation said yesterday

Poor production planning, a lack of storage, weak transport systems, crop disease and parasites cause some 30 percent of cereals and 42 percent of fruit and vegetables to be lost before reaching consumers, the FAO said in Bangkok.

“More effort is needed to raise global awareness of the critical issue of food losses and particularly post-harvest losses, as well as food waste, which is increasing,” said Hiroyuki Konuma, the FAO’s assistant director for the AsiaPacific. “About 35 percent on average is lost or wasted after harvest”, he said, adding that last year the AsiaPacific “was home to 536 million hungry people.” Konuma was speaking at the launch of a campaign to save food in the region, bringing together more than 130 participants from 20 countries ranging from Pakistan to the Philippines.

The FAO defines “loss” as food which does not make it from harvest to the market, while “waste” is food thrown away by consumers, restaurants and supermarkets -- a trend that increases with greater urbanisation.

The region, whose economies have boomed in recent years, wastes substantially less than more developed areas such as the United States and Europe.

But the issue remains a cornerstone of development discussions, according to M. S. Swaminathan, who helped shape India’s “Green Revolution” which boosted crop yields.

“Food waste is also a waste of natural resources like land and water,” he said, adding that “food losses and waste are becoming so central to discussions on both food security and sustainable development”.

The FAO says that if just a quarter of the food wasted worldwide were saved, this would be enough to feed the 870 million people suffering from hunger, of whom 536 million live in the Asia-Pacific region.

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