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Asia Pacific region wastes food - as millions go hungry

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
August 30th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Worldwide, 1.3 billion tons of food, which is enough to feed 3 billion people, is lost every year due to poor planning and waste. This problem is particularly acute in the Asian Pacific region, where half a billion people go to bed hungry every night. According to the United Nations, an estimated 42 percent of fruit and vegetables and a fifth of all the grains produced there are lost or wasted.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - In response, a campaign to cut the region's massive food waste in order to feed its growing population has been launched.

"The Save Food Asia-Pacific Campaign seeks to raise awareness about the high levels of food losses - particularly post-harvest losses - and the growing problem of food waste in the region," Hiroyuki Konuma, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization assistant director-general said in a statement.

"FAO estimates that if the food wasted or lost globally could be reduced by just one quarter, this would be sufficient to feed the 870 million people suffering from chronic hunger in the world," Konuma adds.

Konuma emphasized the need to increase food production by 60 percent, amid constraints such as the decline of arable lands, scarcity of water and the impact of climate change and natural disasters. He stresses that the global population is expected to exceed nine billion by the year 2050.

"We have to attain this goal and produce and supply sufficient food to meet the needs of our future generation. Otherwise, social and political stability and world peace and stability would be compromised, as we already witnessed in the recent past," he told 130 representatives from 20 countries at the meeting.

"There is no room to entertain food losses and food waste any more in the future."

While the Asian Pacific region's economies expanded rapidly in the first decade of the 21st century, the benefits of the growth were unevenly distributed, resulting in a wider income gap in several countries. The downside of this economic recovery is that fact it didn't stave off hunger and poverty, Konuma said.

According to U.N. statistics, an estimated 653 million people across the region lived below the national poverty line in 2010. The Asia-Pacific region was home to 536 million hungry people last year; comprising 62 percent of the world's undernourished.

The problem is the amount of food wasted, not inadequate production. "The world produces more or less sufficient food to meet the demand of its current population of 7 billion. However, 12.5 percent of the global population, or 868 million people, equivalent to one in eight people, go hungry every day," Konuma said.

Some households waste food because they buy too much, do not store it properly, or fail to eat it before the expiration date.

"At our dining tables, nearly 15 to 20 percent of foods cooked are left over, thrown away and wasted in Europe, North America and industrialized Asia," he said.

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