Friday, February 03, 2023 | Rajab 11, 1444 H
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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

A green solution towards zero hunger

The Omani government devotes its utmost attention to the issue of food security and food supply with a wide array of plans and programmes in tandem with UN Sustainable Development Goals, especially SDG 2 which aims at zero hunger by 2030

Whether a country is wealthy or impoverished, it is ruinous for its community if food is wasted. Redistributing food and helping reduce its loss and waste not only helps foster healthier communities but also paves way for the creation of a healthier planet.


According to estimates from the Food and Agriculture Organization, of all the food produced in the world, nearly one-third is lost or wasted every year. Roughly, 14 per cent of the world’s food is lost between harvest and retail sale, and substantially more is wasted at the retail, food service, and consumer or household levels.


World Food Programme figures show that 135 million suffer from acute hunger largely due to man-made conflicts, climate change, and economic downturns. The Covid-19 pandemic could now double that number, putting an additional 130 million people at risk of suffering acute hunger by the end of 2020.


At the same time, as wasted food decomposes in landfills, it contributes 8 to 10 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gases—ultimately intensifying climate change and causing further damage to our communities, our economies, and our planet!


In the Sultanate of Oman, according to the Food Waste Index Report 2021, as much as 470,322 tonnes of food is wasted in households every year in Oman, while the wastage per person is estimated to be 95 kg.


As such the Omani government devotes its utmost attention to the issue of food security and food supply with a wide array of plans and programmes in tandem with UN Sustainable Development Goals, especially SDG 2 which aims at zero hunger by 2030.


The recent launch of Oman Food Bank involving both public and private sector entities is expected to help the government achieve its goal of providing food assistance to the needy and supporting sustainable food systems through multi-sector collaborations.


The move will also encourage the public to reduce the amount of food waste, and adopt best practices in food management to save the produce and build a sustainable future.


The global experience of food banks is that they intervene timely to prevent food from going to waste and ensure the distribution of safe food to the needy. Thus they play a critical role in not just promoting food security, but also saving the planet from the adverse environmental impact of food wastage. They are a green solution to hunger!


While playing an important part of a sustainable solution as food banks partner with farmers, packers, shippers, distributors, processors, grocers, food service, and transportation and supply chain companies to redirect wholesome food to people experiencing hunger.


Food banks focus their efforts on reaching out to communities most affected by poverty and mal-nutrition. The network of community-based organisations that run institutional feeding programmes, are the backbone of the food banks’ supply chain.


They help distribute food products and meals at schools for underprivileged children, homeless shelters, old age homes, after-school programmes, orphanages, charitable hospitals, and other programmes for the needy.


Not all surplus food is fit or appropriate for redistribution, but when unmarketable food is safe and wholesome, redistribution is the responsible course.


In this context, Oman’s 2040 Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development Strategy also aims to promote agricultural sector sustainability, increase economic revenues, create job opportunities for nationals, support rural communities, and limit structural imbalances in the agricultural sector.


Oman’s strategies have been successful in controlling malnutrition diseases among children. The percentage of overweight among children under five years of age was reduced from 23.6 per cent in 1995 to 3.1 per cent in 2017 and wasting has also declined from 13 per cent to 9.3 per cent, while stunting dropped from 22.9 per cent to 11.4 per cent during the same period.


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