Gulfood 2023: 32% of food produced globally lost between harvest and consumption, says expert

The key to solving food insecurity and hunger, he notes, is to increase yields by introducing new food variants, and reduce food wastage


Lamya Tawfik

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Published: Thu 23 Feb 2023, 4:58 PM

Last updated: Thu 23 Feb 2023, 5:01 PM

Over the next 40 years, the world needs to produce the equivalent of all food produced in the last 10,000 years, as the situation is dire, says a food security expert.

Speaking at Gulfood 2023 on Thursday about global food hunger and the possible solutions, Vivek Agarwal, Managing Director, Bharat Subcontinent Agri Foundation (BSAF) said that they focus on zero food wastage in the subcontinent through proper communication, logistics and providing access to information at all levels of the food value chain.

“We work with farmers and try to give them advanced technology and information that helps them maximise their production. One of the most critical issues haunting the world is global food hunger,” he said.

Why is the world hungrier than ever?

According to Vivek, the reason for this is the rising populations, war and violence, increasing costs, climate change, food security and supply chain disruptions.

He defined food security as “a situation that exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.” The lack of it – having a food shortage – is the major cause of hunger, malnutrition, radicalisation, instability and rebellion, he said adding, “Food security is national security.”

The solution to this global problem, he said, is to increase yields by introducing new food variants, and reducing food wastage by improving supply chain management. He said that food security is a UN priority as reflected in their Sustainable Development Goal: no poverty, no hunger and responsible consumption and production. “Globally, around 32 per cent of food produced is lost between harvest and consumption. In the next 10 years water demand will increase by 50 per cent,” explained Vivek.

He said that the world’s agricultural area has reduced by nearly 10 per cent over the last 14 years due to natural causes like wind erosion, natural salinisation and harsh climate conditions, in addition to man-made causes such as irrigation malpractice, excessive use of additives and overgrazing.

One of the factors that contribute to the restricted access to food supplies is regional instability and conflict. “More than 39 million people are affected by conflict-driven food crises, especially in Yemen, Afghanistan and Syria, where political social and economic grievances or geopolitical tensions have sparked violent and armed conflicts,” he said.

BSAF is a non-profit company that focuses on reducing and subsequently eliminating food shortage and wastage by creating opportunities for global companies with technologically advanced farming methods and processes to trade with the Indian subcontinent.

Earlier in January, BSAF and DMCC signed a Memorandum of Understanding to advance the global agricultural commodities sector between the UAE and South Asia.

The two partners agreed to work together on FoodTech and AgriTech projects, share business opportunities and enhance knowledge transfer through conferences and exhibitions such as Gulfood.


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