Tag Archives: Food

Remarks by the Secretary-General at Launch of Policy Brief on Food Security

New York, 9 June 2020

There is more than enough food in the world to feed our population of 7.8 billion people.

But, today, more than 820 million people are hungry.

And some 144 million children under the age of 5 are stunted – more than one in five children worldwide.

Our food systems are failing, and the Covid-19 pandemic is making things worse.

Unless immediate action is taken, it is increasingly clear that there is an impending global food emergency that could have long term impacts on hundreds of millions of children and adults.

This year, some 49 million extra people may fall into extreme poverty due to the COVID-19 crisis.

The number of people who are acutely food or nutrition insecure will rapidly expand.

Every percentage point drop in global Gross Domestic Product means an additional 0.7 million stunted children.

Even in countries with abundant food, we see risks of disruptions in the food supply chain.

We need to act now to avoid the worst impacts of our efforts to control the pandemic.

Today I am launching a Policy Brief on the Impact of COVID-19 on Food Security and Nutrition.

It has three clear findings.

First, we must mobilize to save lives and livelihoods, focusing attention where the risk is most acute.

That means designating food and nutrition services as essential, while implementing appropriate protections for food workers.

It means preserving critical humanitarian food, livelihood and nutrition assistance to vulnerable groups.

And it means positioning food in food-crisis countries to reinforce and scale up social protection systems.

Countries need to scale up support for food processing, transport and local food markets, and they must keep trade corridors open to ensure the continuous functioning of food systems.

And they must ensure that relief and stimulus packages reach the most vulnerable, including meeting the liquidity needs of small-scale food producers and rural businesses.

Second, we must strengthen social protection systems for nutrition.

Countries need to safeguard access to safe, nutritious foods, particularly for young children, pregnant and breastfeeding women, older people and other at-risk groups.

And they need to adapt and expand social protection schemes to benefit nutritionally at-risk groups.

This includes supporting children who no longer have access to school meals.

Third, we must invest in the future.

We have an opportunity to build a more inclusive and sustainable world.

Let us build food systems that better address the needs of food producers and workers.

Let us provide more inclusive access to healthy and nutritious food so we can eradicate hunger.

And let us rebalance the relationship between food systems and the natural environment by transforming them to work better with nature and for the climate.

We cannot forget that food systems contribute up to 29 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions, including 44 per cent of methane, and are having a negative impact on biodiversity.

If we do these things and more, as indicated by the brief we are launching today, we can avoid some of the worst impacts of the COVID19 pandemic on food security and nutrition – and we can do so in a way that supports the green transition that we need to make.

Thank you.

Experts define sustainable packaging priorities for Africa Efficient packaging systems reduce food losses, scale up trade

On 10 September 2018, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the International

Participants of the food packaging meeting. Photo/UNIC/Lusaka/Maseko/2018

Participants of the food packaging meeting. Photo/UNIC/Lusaka/Maseko/2018

Trade Centre (ITC) held a regional packaging meeting in Lusaka as prelude to the World Export Development Forum (WEDF) that Zambia hosted from 11 – 13 September 2018. Food losses and waste are an enormous drain on natural resources. The meeting was held against a backdrop of statistics that indicate about one-third of the annual food produced globally for human consumption (approximately 1.3 billion tonnes) being lost or wasted. These losses are particularly unfortunate in Africa where approximately 20 percent of the population is undernourished.

Appropriate packaging has a significant impact in improving food quality and safety, thereby reducing food losses, whilst enhancing the competitiveness of Africa’s agro-enterprises and boosting trade. Furthermore, packaging plays a key role in improving the marketing of produce and is an important part of a strategy to enhance competitiveness of small and medium agro-enterprises (SMAEs).

Better packaging, traceability and labeling is necessary to enhance the quality and safety of products, noted Hon. Christopher Yaluma (MP), Zambia’s Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry, in a speech read on his behalf by the ministry’s Director for Foreign Trade, Lillian Bwalya,. “New entrepreneurs want to grow businesses that are both profitable and sustainable, reflecting the aspirations of their customers in Africa as well as buyers throughout the world,” he added.

Mitigating packaging constraints

Through a project implemented by FAO and ITC and funded by Industria Macchine Automatiche, industry packaging leaders and experts from several sub-Saharan African countries have come together to make recommendations on how to scale up packaging solutions for the agri-food sector.

Among the significant bottlenecks associated with packaging, African firms and packaging experts cited the lack and high cost of packaging equipment and materials. The also noted the high maintenance and servicing costs, absence of advice to source inputs among others. These challenges were hindering the value chain development and the SMAEs effort to generate income.

George Okech, FAO Representative in Zambia, noted that poor packaging is one of the key constraints facing small and medium agro-enterprises, who in aggregate manufacture the bulk of locally processed food products on the continent. “Improving packaging systems will contribute to strengthening the entire food supply chain, improve the competitiveness of these enterprises and benefit all food chain actors and consumers,” he said.

Among proposed solutions are options for shared service centers; quality management and branding training for small firms; access to relevant digital printing technologies; and access to packaging-related market information.

Reducing the environmental impact

To reducing the overall environmental impact of food packaging systems, the continent should also take into account the environmental impact of the packaging material itself.

The ITC Deputy Executive Director, Dorothy Tembo, noted that packaging is recently hitting the headlines for the wrong reasons. Its contribution to pollution was leading to very negative consumer reactions, particularly to single-use, non-recyclable plastics.

“Production lines can be adapted at minimal cost to reduce waste, pollution and your carbon footprint, whilst improving overall profitability and the attractiveness of your products. African Enterprises must lead in green packaging for Africa to keep its natural environment whilst bolstering opportunities for its people”, she said.

The workshop recommended the urgent need for; facilities to test new packaging designs, information platforms to inform processors about available materials and equipment, and advisory support services to help enterprises adapt production and product design to reduce costs, waste and pollution. Also, the meeting advocated for the need to attract investors to develop scalable and recyclable packaging manufacturing facilities.