The food inflation is very high in Pakistan. The prices of pulses, vegetables, fruits and grains have sky-rocketed in last two years. The food inflation in Pakistan is the highest in South Asia. Millions of people in Pakistan find it hard to feed themselves. But well-off Pakistanis waste food every day.
Pakistan produces enough food to feed the entire population but because of food waste millions of poor people living in abject poverty go to bed hungry or not eating enough. Food waste means we deprive millions of poor and hungry from much needed food. According to the Global Hunger Index in 2019, Pakistan ranks 94th out of 117 countries with a score of 28.5 and suffers from a level of hunger that is serious.
Some statistic indicates that about 36 million tons of food is wasted every year in Pakistan. This is equivalent to every citizen of Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad throwing out entire lunches and dinners every day.
According to a report, 40 per cent of food in Pakistan is wasted. This includes food loss during the supply chain (production, post-harvest handling, agro-processing, distribution and consumption) that occurs every year.
Food wastage is the sum of food waste and food lost. Food waste is common at wedding ceremonies. In addition to ceremonies, nearly 40% of food wastage also occurs at various hotel banquets. Reportedly, in a major hotel in Islamabad, 870kg of food is wasted each day.
Multiple people are deprived from food due to poverty and they sleep without eating. But it’s disheartening to say that instead of providing the food to the poor people, the food is being wasted.
According to a report around 40 percent of food is wasted in the weddings, homes, parties and hotels. It is really criminal to waste food when millions of people need this food in our country. We cannot afford to waste food in any form. We need to develop food banks to collect the extra food from hotels, restaurants, wedding halls, social clubs and food companies and to distribute it to poor and hungry people.
The government is encouraging the private sector to open Dastar Khawan (public kitchens) to feed the poor. But more people can be provided food trough collection of extra food that we waste every day.
The problem of food wastage lies in socio-cultural sensitization and behavioral change. While many food products are biodegradable, their non-consumption means the resources such as energy, water and materials used in their cultivation and production are wasted.
Waste of food is one of the most annoying and inexplicable acts. One-third of the food in the world doesn’t make it to our plates. That amounts to an incredible 1.3 billion tons of food.
This amount of food could feed around 3 billion people each year. That exceeds the number of all the hungry people worldwide by nearly 4 times. Worldwide, humans waste one of every three food calories produced. These wasted calories are enough to feed three billion people, 10 times the population of the United States, more than twice that of China, and more than three times the total number of malnourished globally.
Thus, people should be convinced about the need for avoiding food wastage, especially during the wedding season. While the government should also ensure a system whereby extra food is directly transported to shelter homes and work towards feeding its population and curbing hunger, it is also the responsibility of the people to change their habit.
Food waste is common at wedding ceremonies. Most reception dinners take place at midnight, and by that time intensely hungry people rush towards the food tables, filling their plates excessively. Nearly half of the food in their plates is uneaten and goes to waste.
According to the outgoing country director of World Food Programme (WFP) Lola Castro, 43pc of the country’s population remains food insecure, with 18pc facing a severe shortage.
Wastage of food has many consequences. While 2.5 litres of water are sufficient for drinking each day, it takes about 3,500 litres to produce the food a person needs each day. Food waste impacts natural resources in terms of land and soil degradation.
Global Food Security, a recent report by the US National Intelligence Council, says that declining food security will almost certainly contribute to social disruptions and political instability.
Simply growing more food globally will not lead to countries becoming more food-secure because sustainable access will remain unequal; millions lack land access or income sources to buy sufficient food.
Food insecurity, especially when caused by higher food prices, heightens the risk of democratic breakdown, civil conflict, protest, rioting, and communal conflict.
We need to change our eating habits to save food for others. We need to develop a healthy culture of donating extra food to the needy people in our neighborhoods. We can feed families with the food we generally wasted.
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