Guest Commentary – Halving Global Food Loss and Waste by 2030

By Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development

In January, during the launch of a new initiative at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, I made a call to end shocking levels of food spoilage and loss. Nearly a third of all food is lost or wasted ‘between the farm and the fork’ and it is the rural people in developing countries who suffer this loss the most. FAO estimates that annually the loss and waste adds up to US$940 billion and about eight per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. If food loss and waste were its own country, it would be the world’s third-largest greenhouse gas emitter.

We all have a role to play in tackling this huge issue. But it will require a structured approach, solid partnerships, bold initiatives and collaborative actions across sectors and value chains. Without this, the losses and waste will go on and poor rural people will bear the brunt of our failure to act.

Champions 12.3: inspiring ambition, mobilizing action

That’s why I’m honoured to be part of the new initiative launched at Davos Champions 12.3. It’s a coalition of 30 CEOs, government ministers, global institution executives, civil society leaders and farmers’ organizations. The name symbolizes our commitment to Target 12.3 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). By 2030, its aim is to halve per capita food waste at the retail and consumer level, and reduce losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses.

Our role as champions will be to inspire ambition and mobilize action. We will raise awareness amongst governments, private sector and all the stakeholders along the value chain about Target 12.3 and leverage our relations to create the capacity to reach it.

An ambitious target, but not impossible

In the past years, like many other development organizations, we did not have in place a systematic approach to address post-harvest management issues in our operations. But this is no longer the way we work. With a renewed emphasis on pro-poor value chain development, we are now investing in post-production technologies and services to smallholder farmers to reduce food losses and waste, and make quality and safe food available.

Moreover, we are joining forces with our sister agencies and Member States to raise awareness on the importance of food losses and to stimulate change and action in member countries to reduce them. In this regard, I would like to mention two joint projects:

“Mainstreaming Food Loss Reduction Initiatives for Smallholders in Food Deficit Areas,” funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, implemented with FAO and WFP, and “Food loss reduction through partnerships and evidence based interventions,” funded by the government of Ireland and implemented with FAO.

Thanks to the first project in particular, a global Community of Practice has been established to share knowledge and scale up solutions to reduce food loss in supported grain and pulse value chains.

As I said during the launch of this initiative, we can only achieve success if we give smallholder farmers the tools they need. At IFAD we believe that if smallholder farmers are given the right tools, not only will they feed themselves and their communities, they can significantly contribute to global food security.

With the support of each one of you, I am confident IFAD can play a substantial role in achieving Target 12.3 by increasing interventions directed at reducing food losses and waste.