Today is World Food Day. For those who may not be aware of the fact that such a day exists, it is an international day celebrated every year around the world on 16 October in honor of the date of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in 1945. FAO is a specialized agency of the UN that leads international efforts to defeat hunger.

The organization’s main goal is to achieve food security for all and make sure that people have regular access to enough high-quality food. With over 194 member states, FAO works in over 130 countries worldwide.

 

This day marks the foundation of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) that happened on October 16, 1945.

Collective action across 150 countries is what makes World Food Day one of the most celebrated days of the UN calendar. Hundreds of events and outreach activities bring together governments, businesses, NGOs, the media, and the general public. They promote worldwide awareness and action for those who suffer from hunger and for the need to ensure healthy diets for all.

World Food Day 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of FAO in an exceptional moment as countries around the world deal with the widespread effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic. It’s time to look into the future we need to build together.

Over 2 billion people do not have regular access to safe, nutritious, and sufficient food. The global population is expected to reach almost 10 billion by 2050.

The theme for this year’s World Food Day 2020 is “Grow, Nourish, Sustain. Together. Our actions are our future.”

Several events and outreach activities are conducted by businesses, NGOs, the media, the general public, governments. They promote awareness among the general public for those who suffer from hunger.

Having food is something to celebrate but have you ever wondered consciously just much food you waste. Have you ever stopped to analyze just how much food is wasted in your household, society, country, and the world? It is not something that people, who have food readily available whenever they feel hungry, worry about. However, for people who are not even able to eat one meal a day, often wonder if all the food that is being wasted around them on a daily basis could have filled their stomach.

Food waste is an issue of importance to global food security and the environment. But what a lot of people may not realize is that it impacts a country’s economy as well. Every day, food suitable for human consumption is wasted in large quantities in medium and high-income countries at the retail and consumer level. In fact, a significant food loss and waste occur at the production of processing stages in the food supply chain in low-income countries.

Around 67 million tonnes of food is wasted in India every year which has been valued at around Rs 92,000 crores. For context, this amount is enough to feed all of Bihar for a year
Annually, nearly 21 million metric tonnes of wheat rots in India. This figure is equal to Australia’s total annual production

According to the old 2018 BMC data, Mumbai generates close to 9,400 metric tonnes of solid waste per day, from which 73% is food, vegetable, and fruit waste, while only 3% is plastic.  National Delhi also generates around 9,000 metric tonnes of waste per day, with the country’s largest landfill located in East Delhi.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday released a commemorative coin of Rs 75 to mark the 75th anniversary of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which he said had seen India’s fight against malnutrition from close quarters. The coin was released on October 16 to mark the long-standing relation of India with Food and Agriculture Organisation.

PM Modi began his address by congratulating all those working to remove malnutrition, around the world. “In India, our farmers, agricultural scientists, Anganwadi and ASHA workers are leading the movement against malnutrition,” he said.

However, he said, lack of education, lack of information, non-availability of pure water, absence of hygiene were among the reasons India did not get the results it expected from its fight against malnutrition. He said when he got an opportunity to serve the country in 2014, he moved ahead with an integrated and holistic approach. “We are taking an important step in our fight against malnutrition as we are now encouraging the production of crops which are rich in nutritional substances like protein, iron, zinc etc,” he said.

 

PM Modi also dedicated to the nation 17 recently-developed bio-fortified varieties of eight crops on World Food Day, which is being observed on Friday. “Before 2014, only one biofortified variety of crops was available. However, today, farmers are getting 70 biofortified varieties of various crops,” he said.

Talking about the recently introduced farm laws, which have triggered protests by farmers and opposition parties, he said these laws are an ‘important step’ in improving the country’s agricultural sector and increasing farmers’ income.

“The empowerment of India’s farmers will further strengthen the country’s fight against malnutrition. I’m confident that the increasing coordination between India and FAO will give further impetus to this mission,” PM Modi said as he concluded his address.

 

Economic Impact:

Food Wastage not only leads to negative environmental impact but also causes economic loss. According to an FAO report, approximately one-third of all food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted. The economic costs of this food wastage are substantial and amount to about $1 trillion each year. However, the hidden costs of food wastage extend much further.  In addition to the $1 trillion of economic costs per year, environmental costs reach around $700 billion and social costs around $900 billion.

While government intervention is necessary to contain the wastage, the citizens also play a significant role. There is so much that you can do on a more personal level to contain the food wastage.

Here are some ways you can reduce food wastage on a personal level:

1. Plan out your meal and make your shopping list in advance to determine what you actually need. Earlier data suggested that about 20% of what we buy in urban India ends up being thrown away. You could cut down on the surplus and contain wastage.

2. Buy in quantities you can realistically use. Avoid impulse buys because it will more or less find itself in the bin.

3. If you cook at home, make sure you cook keeping in mind there is no excess. In case you end up making more food than what can be consumed, do not throw it away. Feed someone around you who needs that meal.

4. Select according to their shelf life. Use green vegetables first so that they do not get worse. Don’t throw out fruits and veggies with ‘aesthetic only’ blemishes. Use canned and bottled food before expiry dates.

5. If you work in an office that has a canteen, you can check with them on how they manage excess food. Cooked food, especially since it has a low shelf life needs to be managed better and faster. Check with NGOs who offer to transport excess food to the needy.

Also, if you host a family get together either at home, a marriage hall or throw a party at a hotel, make sure you plan for the food to be transported to a place like an orphanage or an old age shelter.

website of World Food Day, United States (US) appropriately phrases it, it ‘is a day of action against hunger’. A day when a step should be taken towards eradication of hunger, if not globally, locally.

On this World Food Day, make a promise to yourself to not to waste food and to feed at least one hungry soul daily !! Be it a human or an animal!

To whom are you going to feed today?

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