Dr Sumaira Gul
PESHAWAR, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: Pakistan ranked 92nd out of 116 countries in the Global Hunger Index (GHI). The country’s hunger level is classified as serious with a score of 24.7. On a regional level, Pakistan ranks higher than India (ranked 101).
Pakistan having the highest ratio of inflation contributing on large scale for generating greenhouse gases from food waste. In recent Ramadan the food waste remains high as at different hotels and banquets as people used to take more food and nearly half of the food at their plates remains uneaten and wasted. On wedding and other celebration majority of food is wasted in Pakistan as there is a culture of fancy food and more than two items on special occasions.
These wasted foods when dumped decompose and increase the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and generate chemical waste in underground water. It is not only the waste of edible items but the waste of agricultural land, water resources, fertilizers, pesticides and the wastage of man power energies used for the production of that food.
There is no systematic approach for reuse of wastes food in Pakistan. Food waste is a prime sustainability issues and has severe impact on food security, country economy and global environment. Food waste resulting in high greenhouse gases emission every year which is threatening to the global climate change scenario. One of the indicators of sustainable development goal is to ensure a notable decrease in food loss till 2030.
According to a report 40% food in Pakistan is wasted every year. Food waste and loss in Pakistan is a multi-stage process. This includes food loss during the supply chain started from the production of food, post-harvest handling, agro-processing, distribution and finally the consumption of food at different level.
According to World Food Programme (WFP) In Pakistan, about 36 million tons of food is being wasted every year and 43pc of the country’s population remains food insecure, with 18pc facing a severe shortage. The global hunger index ranked Pakistan a country with serious hunger level in 2016 and According to it 2020 report Pakistan rank 88 out of 132 countries across the globe which is not only alarming but a question to the policy makers of the state. Recent inflation in Pakistan and natural calamity of flood has also reduced the purchasing power of the people and increased hunger threat in the country for the downtrodden class of the society.
Food waste is contributing to carbon emission at the time when 800 million people are suffering from hunger over the entire world estimated by United Nations.
There are certain potential benefits of reducing food loss and food waste. By using up leftover food people can save money and can use it for other household activities. It can also help to reduce CO2 emission which is contributing to climate change globally. Reuse of wasted food can ensure food security as globally hunger is striking the poor communities all over the world.
At the consumer level The causes of food waste in low and medium income countries are, insufficient purchase planning and expiring ‘best-before-dates’ also cause large amounts of waste, in combination with the careless attitude of those consumers who can afford to waste food. Another factor is lack of education and systematic supply chain for the reuse of wasted food.Food quality and standard is also a contributing factor as the quality is compromised the chances of loss increases.
On state level efforts has been made by Punjab Food Authority by establishing Disposal of Excess Food Regulation 2019. The main objective of this regulation was to link food operators with different stake holders for the distribution of excess food in the underprivileged deserving class. It was challenging as due to limited resources the safety measures cannot be guaranteed for the supply of uneaten food in short period of time. The production and transportation of food, burning of fuel and clearing of forests are involved which is directly contributing to climate change and effecting the environment globally.
An Analyst Prof Dr Waqas Ahmed Qazi said that a huge amount of food is wasted at weddings, birthday parties and other social events in different parts of the country. If this wastage is curbed, more food can be made available to feed the destitute.
“The government should launch awareness campaigns and bring to light the abject poverty in the country, especially in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. It is high time we behaved and celebrated responsibly,” Prof Qazi
He said that there is an urgent need to impose a ban on wedding feasts, with only snacks, tea, or cold drinks allowed or at best, a one-dish party with a limited number of guests to reduce the amount of waste that is occurring. Another option is to encourage charities to pick up leftover food in refrigerated vehicles for free distribution to the needy.
Dr Sumaira Gul is a freelance jouranlist and working as Lactuare in Shaheeb Benazir Bhutto Women University Peshawar