UN agencies launch new joint initiative targeting elimination of global food waste

27 October 2014 | Press Releases

Rome, 24 October 2014 – The world wastes enough food to feed an estimated two billion people, the United Nations said today as its three Rome-based food agencies announced the launch of a digital platform designed to take aim at the growing problem of “food loss.”

FAO, IFAD and WFP joint project “Mainstreaming food loss reduction initiatives for smallholders in food deficit areas” aims to improve food security and income generation through reduction of food losses in food grains and pulses value chains. Photo: FAO/Alessandra Benedetti

FAO, IFAD and WFP joint project “Mainstreaming food loss reduction initiatives for smallholders in food deficit areas” aims to improve food security and income generation through reduction of food losses in food grains and pulses value chains. Photo: FAO/Alessandra Benedetti

The new online programme, called the Global Community of Practice (CoP) on Food Loss Reduction, was jointly launched by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP), with the goal of becoming “a global reference point” in the facilitation of information sharing between stakeholders such as public entities, civil society and the private sector.

As a result, it will also permit stakeholders to tap into relevant news and events and access links to online libraries and databases as well as social networks and online trainings.

In a press release marking the inauguration of the project, FAO Deputy-Director General for Natural Resources, Maria Helena Semedo, stressed that with more than 800 million people in the world still suffering from hunger, saving food was of paramount of importance.

“When food is saved, the resources used to produce it are saved. Reducing waste and losses by not creating these in the first place should be a priority for all,” said Ms. Semedo.

According to UN estimates, in fact, roughly 30 percent of global food production, that is 40-50 percent of root crops, fruits and vegetables, 20 percent of oilseeds, meat and dairy products and 35 per cent of fish, is either lost or wasted, amounting to some 1.3 billion tonnes – or enough food to feed 2 billion people.

Amid the wastefulness, global efforts to reduce the “unacceptably high” rates of food loss must also be holistic, IFAD Vice-President Michel Mordasini added, pointing to the role of smallholder farmers who, he said, were “most vulnerable.” For its part, the WFP’s Post-Harvest Loss Reduction initiative currently reaches 16,000 smallholder farm families in Uganda, with the aim of reducing post-harvest losses by 70 percent amongst participating smallholder farmers.

“The available technical solutions still have to be made accessible and affordable to those farming communities,” Mr. Mordasini continued.

“I am therefore encouraged by the fact that the Global Community of Practice on Food Losses will engage with and tap into the knowledge of farmers and practitioners, as well as researchers, development agencies and policymakers.”