27 Sep Tackling Food Loss and Waste Through Regenerative Agriculture
According to the UN, over 30% of global food is lost or wasted each year. This amounts to global losses in agriculture of around 1.2 billion tonnes of food annually, equivalent to a landmass larger than the Indian subcontinent and a water volume equal to 304 million Olympic swimming pools.
A startling figure given the growing number of hungry people in the world. In 2022, between 691 and 783 million people globally faced hunger, and that figure is set to grow in 2023. Saving just one-fourth of the food currently lost or wasted could feed 870 million people.
Not only does food loss and waste represent a missed opportunity to tackle global hunger, it also poses a huge environmental challenge. Modern agricultural systems are fundamentally unsustainable, leading to land degradation, contributing to global warming and reducing biodiversity. When food is lost or wasted, all of the precious resources put into its production – land, energy, labour and capital – go to waste. It’s estimated that food that is lost and wasted accounts for 38% of total energy usage in the global food system, and is responsible for around 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
With food loss and waste posing such a big threat to the sustainability, and therefore resilience, of global food systems, it’s important to understand where the wastage occurs.
It’s estimated that 13% of the world’s food is lost in the supply chain post harvest to retail. From the point of harvest, through to national and international transport systems. A further 17% of global food is wasted in households, food services and retail. This encompasses food wastage once it’s been purchased by consumers or corporations.
Food loss and waste is acknowledged by the UN to be one of the key challenges for sustainable development. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which encompasses the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, includes a target to halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer level, and reduce losses along production and supply chains (SDG 12.3).
So what can be done?
For farmers, food waste can be used to create compost (a technique that boosts crop yields and reduces water loss). Food loss can be prevented through proper crop protection. Pests are responsible for an estimated 40% of crop failure worldwide, meaning farmers need to invest in pest solutions that don’t pose a threat to existing ecosystems.
Haller’s farmer training program includes sessions on both composting and pest reduction, drawing on regenerative principles to ensure biodiversity is preserved.
For consumers, shopping and cooking smart goes a long way to reducing food waste. Not buying in excess, storing food properly and learning to preserve food can all contribute to reductions in wastage.
Interested in learning more? Follow us across social media to keep updated with our regenerative practices, and visit the Haller Farmers app.