LAHORE: Though Pakistan is amongst the world’s top ten producers of wheat, cotton, rice, sugarcane, mango, dates and kinnow oranges, around 40 percent of the country’s population is food insecure, with little access to affordable and nutritious food.
Experts raised alarm over the statistics, which revealed that nearly 36 million tonnes of food is wasted every year, whereas 18 per cent of the population, which primarily include women and children, face food shortage.
This was highlighted at a consultative stakeholder workshop organized by WWF-Pakistan, in collaboration with the Lahore Waste Management Company (LWMC), to mark the International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste.
In line with the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of zero hunger and sustainable consumption and production, WWF-Pakistan’s Sustaianble Agriculture and Food Programme took an initiative to ascertain food loss and waste in Pakistan. The findings of the last one year of field work; which included data from the hospitality industry, landfill sites, etc.; were disseminated at the workshop.
Asad Ullah Imran, Director Sustainable Agriculture and Food Programme, WWF-Pakistan stated that “In a country like Pakistan, where a significant percentage of the population is either food insecure or malnourished, it is morally and ethically wrong to waste food fit for human consumption. We must ensure food security for our citizens and make responsible use of our natural resources in order to mitigate poverty, hungry and food waste. Food waste is generated at each step of the process, from production and handling, to consumption and disposal. Most of this ends up in landfills, where it decomposes and increases the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and generates chemical waste that percolates into the soil and groundwater.”
Dr Kamran Nasir, General Manager Planning and Projects, LWMC took the opportunity to stress on the urgent need to address waste generation. “LWMC is the biggest company collecting and disposing waste in Pakistan.
Despite putting 14,000 sanitary workers and over 1,000 vehicles to the task, these resources fall short. Therefore, we must shift our attention from waste collection to waste generation.
This becomes increasingly important in light of our growing population and consumption patterns.” He also added that 64 per cent of the waste collected in Lahore is biodegradable waste.
Representatives from the government, academia, hospitality sector, business community and waste management sector shared insights on how their respective sectors could contribute towards controlling the menace, which is not only harming the environment but also impacting various aspects of life.
Adil Daniel, Coordinator Sustainable Agriculture and Food Programme, WWF-Pakistan added that the recommendations and feedback received will facilitate the development of policies pertaining to food loss and waste, and will encourage the adoption of conscientious social practices.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021