Speaking at the 2nd SAVE FOOD International Congress in Düsseldorf, the FAO Assistant Director-General underlined that effective coordination across all sectors could make ‘a real difference’ to one of the world’s major food security challenges.
He reminded the congress that while 842 million people suffer from chronic hunger, around 1.3 billion tonnes of food is lost or wasted every year. Indeed, the FAO estimates that the food produced but never eaten would be sufficient to feed two billion people.
Even just halving the current level of losses would have a dramatic impact on the projected 60% increase in food availability required to feed a global population of 9 billion by 2050, said Wang.
“A huge and essential gain can, and has, to be made,” he warned.
Wang stressed that national governments and public organisations cannot solve the problem on their own, but should work on creating the right investment conditions for the private sector to take action.
“Only the [people] who produce food can reduce food losses at any significant scale,” he stressed.
A destructive force
In addition to affecting food security and income generation - particularly for poor small-scale farmers - food losses and waste also take their toll on the environment, said Wang, who noted that high waste margins lead to increased use of precious water and land resources and contribute more to greenhouse gas emissions.
“If global food loss and waste were a country, it would be the third biggest emitter of greenhouse gases and the biggest user of irrigation water,” he told the congress.
In fact, the total land area used to produce the food that nobody eats would make food loss and waste the second biggest country in the world, he added.