The Food and Agriculture Organization, FAO, has disclosed that one third of the food produced worldwide is lost or wasted. The Agency put global costs of food wastage as approximately US$2.6 trillion per year, including US$700 billion of environmental costs and US$900 billion of social costs.
Despite this the FAO, warned that after a period of decline, world hunger is on the rise again, resulting in more than 815 million people suffering chronic undernourishment.
However, the organisation is convinced that the problem can be successfully tackled and that a “Zero Hunger” world is possible by the year 2030.
“Conflict, extreme weather events linked to climate change, economic slowdown and rapidly increasing overweight and obesity levels are reversing progress made in the fight against hunger and malnutrition,” the FAO said in its latest report.
“Now is the time to get back on track. The world can achieve zero hunger if we join forces across nations, continents, sectors, and professions, and act on evidence,” the FAO added.
According to the organisation, 80 per cent of the world’s poor live in rural areas where people’s lives depend on agriculture, fisheries or forestry. That is why, the FAO argued, zero hunger calls for a transformation of rural economy.
“Governments must create opportunities for greater private sector investments in agriculture, while boosting social protection programmes for the vulnerable and linking food producers with urban areas,” the FAO advised.
“Smallholder farmers need to adopt new, sustainable agricultural methods to increase productivity and income. Ensuring the resilience of rural communities requires an approach that is mindful of the environment, that leverages the power of technological innovation, and creates stable and rewarding employment opportunities,” the organisation added.
However, the FAO cautioned that employment and economic growth are not enough, especially for those who endure conflict and suffering.
“Zero hunger moves beyond conflict resolution and economic growth, taking the long-term approach to build peaceful, inclusive societies,” the FAO said.
“While millions go hungry, 600 million people suffer from obesity, and a further 1.3 billion are overweight,” the organisation said, pointing out that this can be changed.
According to FAO, the world produces enough food to feed everyone, yet about 815 million people suffer from hunger. That is one in nine people. Sixty per cent of them are women, adding that about 80 per cent of the world’s extreme poor live in rural areas. Most of them depend on agriculture.
It said that hunger kills more people every year than malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS combined, and around 45 per cent of infant deaths are related to malnutrition. Stunting still affects 155 million children under the age of five years, but at the same time, childhood overweight is on the rise in all regions.
It said 1.9 billion people more than a quarter of the world’s population are overweight, while six hundred million of these are obese and adult obesity is rising everywhere at an accelerated pace.
Also, 3.4 million people die each year due to overweight and obesity and in many countries, more people die from obesity than from homicides, as it put the cost of malnutrition to the global economy is the equivalent of US$3.5 trillion a year.
The FAO estimated that agricultural production must rise by about 60 per cent by 2050 in order to feed a larger and generally richer population, adding that conflicts, extreme weather events linked to climate change and economic slowdown are putting this objective at risk.
“A vast majority of the world’s hungry 489 million and 75 per cent of stunted children under age five, live in countries affected by conflict.
Climate change is also exacerbating hunger. For example, in developing countries, up to 83 per cent of the overall economic impact of drought, which climate change is expected to intensify, falls on agriculture.
One-third of the food produced worldwide is lost or wasted. The global costs of food wastage are approximately US$2.6 trillion per year, including US$700 billion of environmental costs and US$900 billion of social costs”, it said.