Today marks World Food Day, an international day celebrated in over 150 countries to create awareness and action for the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2, to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.
The 2020 World Food Day comes as the world continues to battle against the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic which is throttling many economies and threatening the already volatile food systems, where millions go to bed hungry. Hunger is still a universal problem confronting the greater part of humanity.
This calls for collective action towards growing a variety of food, nourishing the nation, as well as sustaining the resources and planet together.
The Consumer Goods Council of South Africa (CGCSA) is calling for sustainable, climate-friendly agricultural methods to achieve food and nutrition security supported by appropriate policy interventions.
In remarks commemorating World Food Day, Matlou Setati, CGCSA Executive: Food Safety Initiative, says “the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the importance of food and nutrition security in South Africa which worsened hunger among the most vulnerable and the poor, particularly in the early stages of the lockdown period”.
“Millions of people in South Africa continue to depend on state and private sector assistance for food parcels. But donating food parcels is a short-term measure”, she says. Matlou also highlighted that more sustainable agricultural policies and methods, and responsible consumption of agricultural produce can potentially result in better food and nutrition security.
“It will require greater collaboration between the private sector and government if South Africa is to achieve for instance, food self-sufficiency at household level, including aligning food supply with demand to reduce waste at source, on farms and in factories. One of the areas where partnerships are vital is on reducing food waste. Tackling food loss and waste is a global challenge. But it has added urgency in Africa where so many people still go hungry,” Matlou says.
Estimates show that about 10 million tonnes of local agricultural production is wasted each year in South Africa. This is equivalent to an estimated R60 billion a year or about 2% of GDP. “In a country where an estimated 14 million people go to bed hungry every night, this is a monumental unnecessary waste which cannot be allowed to continue”, says Matlou.
CGCSA has taken the lead to reduce food loss and waste in South Africa by launching the South African Food Loss and Waste Voluntary Agreement, which commits its food manufacturers and retail members to reducing food loss and waste to achieve the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal to halve global food loss and waste by 2030.
The voluntary agreement needs government support beyond statements of support. For example, CGCSA is of the view that government can easily enact legislation that will make it possible for surplus food, which is still safe for human consumption, to be donated to the needy. Currently, such surplus food is being thrown away which is unacceptable given the hunger and food security challenges currently facing our country.
CGCSA supports government’s initiatives to improve food security and acknowledges the commitment by some of its members to reduce food waste and loss.