'No scarcity of food in the world'

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Sweden, Aug 25: If you think there is food scarcity in the world, think again. Almost 50 per cent of the food produced in the world is wasted, claims a policy brief of Stockholm. The wasted food also creates water waste says the policy brief released on Thursday, Aug 21 at World Water Week in Stockholm. The press brief by the Stockholm International Water Institute, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, and the International Water Management Institute state that it is a crisis of production than a crisis of waste.

"More than enough food is produced to feed a healthy global population. Distribution and access to food is a problem - many are hungry, while at the same time many overeat. We are providing food to take care of not only our necessary consumption but also our wasteful habits.", states the press brief. In the wake of wastage of food, the water used in producing the food is also wasted. Such water losses can be curbed and utilised for productive purposes by farmers, business, ecosystems, and the global hungry.

In the United States, for instance, as much as 30 percent of food, worth some US$48.3 billion, is thrown away. "That's like leaving the tap running and pouring 40 trillion liters of water into the garbage can - enough water to meet the household needs of 500 million people," says the report.

The report also states that such losses have to be avoided and it is the need of the hour for the Governments to take a call and reduce by half, by 2025, the amount of food wasted after it is grown. Through international trade, for instance, savings in one country might benefit communities in other parts of the world.

In poorer countries, production of food is meagre and 15 to 35 per cent will be lost and another 10 to 15 per cent will be discarded during processing, transport and storage and the majority of uneaten food is lost before it has a chance to be consumed. In richer countries, production is more efficient but waste is greater, the report says. "People toss the food they buy and all the resources used to grow, ship and produce the food along with it."

The wasted food also has ill effects on climate. When the food rots in landfills it generates methane, a gas that causes climate change and is 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide. The report stresses that the magnitude of current food losses presents both challenges and opportunities. "Improving water productivity and reducing the quantity of food that is wasted can enable us to provide a better diet for the poor and enough food for growing populations. Reaching the target we propose, a 50 percent reduction of losses and wastage in the production and consumption chain is a necessary and achievable goal" says Professor Jan Lundqvist of the Stockholm International Water Institute.

World Water Week is hosted by the Stockholm International Water Institute, a policy institute that contributes to international efforts to combat the world's escalating water crisis. Virtual water is a measurement of how water is embedded in the production and trade of food and consumer products and is the concept on which the policy brief, "Saving Water: From Field to Fork - Curbing Losses and Wastage in the Food Chain," is based.

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