With the aim to promote and implement global efforts to resolve the issue of food wastage, the United Nations General Assembly in 2019 designated September 29 as International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste.
The day was observed for the first time this year.
The idea was to take steps towards responsible consumption and production as well as zero hunger. According to the United Nations, globally, around 14 per cent of food produced is lost between harvest and retail. Significant quantities are also wasted in retail and at the consumption level.
In Oman, the issue of food wastage comes up mainly during Ramadan when households, hotels and organisers of mass meals tend to prepare more food than what is really required.
‘This yar, with the ban on community meals and stay-at-home orders, not much food was prepared and wasted,’ stated Oman Environmental Service Holding Company (be’ah).
Marked for the first time, the day came as the world struggles with the COVID-19 pandemic, which makes it all the more urgent to re-look at how our food production, consumption and distribution impacts the environment and the people around us.
According to Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), when food is wasted, all the resources that were used to produce the food, including water, land, energy, labour and capital – go to waste. In addition, the disposal of food waste in landfills leads to greenhouse gas emissions contributing to climate change.
In Oman and probably in the Muslim world, women are the busiest members of the community through out Ramadan. However, many said that this year was different.
“Earlier, we used to consider iftar time a special occasion because it was when we got to try all our cuisines and it was always the practice to share what you make with neighbours and family. However, Ramadan in 2020 was completely different. We just made what was enough for our family. So, I’m sure there was no wastage,” said Sawsan al Ajmi, a housewife.
Before COVID-19, it was common to see men also take some food to Ramadan gatherings to share with others.
“Although Ramadan cuisine and customs vary regionally, it is common to see other kinds of delicacies of other cultures being prepared in addition to the special menu set by the family. The daily social meetings that we used to have introduced us to each other’s customs and cuisine but much of the food used to end up as waste. But this year was different and I guess there was no food wastage,” said Abdullah Amour, Seeb resident.
This year, COVID-19 pandemic continues to generate significant challenges to food security in many countries.
Disruptions in supply chains, quarantine measures, the closure of much of the hospitality industry and schools have resulted in a loss of markets for producers and distributors making the situation even more challenging while dealing with high levels of food waste.
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