Foods worth Billions of Birr Go to Waste Annually

ADDIS ABEBA – Ethiopia is losing billions of dollars as a result of food waste and loss, said a scientist at Jimma University on Wednesday.

Ali Mohammed professor, who has researched the area, said an estimated 282 billion birr worth of food is wasted or lost in Ethiopia annually.

The data collected from 14 Woredas [districts] were looked into his study which has been conducted in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Poor practices in harvesting, storage and transportation, market and consumer wastage are the major reasons for the food to go either waste or loss, said Prof. Ali.

More efficient farming practices, transport, storage and processing facilities could ensure that a larger proportion of the food produced to reach consumers and, hence, lowering food waste, he added.

Ethiopia spends around 55.5 billion birr to import food and food staff annually.

“If the government uses a systematic way of food management, it will minimize the amount significantly,” he said.

The professor gave an example of Ethiopia’s fruits and vegetable produce which, according to reports, 40% or more of tomatoes, papayas and mangos don’t make it to the consumer.

Most of their produces go to waste due to lack of scientific ways to preserve the fruits, he said during an event that celebrated this year’s world food day on Thursday.

The main objective of celebrating the world food day in Ethiopia was to raise awareness of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and to provide a place where knowledge, expertise and solutions are shared, officials said.

In recent years, there has been a renewed attempt to drastically reduce food waste as part of efforts to eliminate hunger not only in Ethiopia but also globally.

One of UN’s 17 SDGs, SDG 2, set the target of halving food waste by 2030 “at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along the production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses”.

By Mhret G/Kristos

Photo Caption: Food waste is currently generating 8% of greenhouse gas emissions globally [File: James Leynse]