MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku



10 APRIL 2024

Saturday, September 30, 2023

Malaysia must do more to reduce food loss and wastage

“There is food for everyone on this planet, but not everyone eats,” Carlo Petrini, Italian activist and founder of the International Slow Food Movement.

MP SPEAKS | The UN declared Sept 29 as the International Day of Awareness on Food Loss and Waste Reduction and the theme this year is “Reducing food loss and waste: Taking Action to Transform Food Systems.”

In April this year, the UN Environment Programme reported that Malaysians waste up to 8.3 million tonnes of food every year and every one of us is guilty of disposing of 259.82kg of food annually.

The Malaysian Reserve reported that this year during Ramadan, in Selangor alone, bazaar traders have dumped roughly 73.67 tonnes of food per day that could have fed nearly 61,400 people in need.

Sadly, Malaysia, the melting pot of cultures, festivals, and celebrations, is also globally the worst for food waste, with Israel and Greece coming in second and third. This is something no Malaysian should ever be proud of.

The 2022 Global Hunger Index ranked Malaysia at 58 out of 121 countries and is categorised as “moderate”. This is hard to believe because we still have the poor who go to bed hungry, even in some tragic cases, rummaging through landfills for food.

According to the UN, globally, about 13 percent of food produced is lost between harvest and retail, and 17 percent of total global food production is wasted in households.

The call for transforming food systems must be taken seriously by Malaysia towards greater awareness, commitment, and participation to reduce food loss and waste, and this includes the government, the public sector and individuals, to not only carry out initiatives but also to aim to achieve our pledge for all goals in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

Least to say, the Covid-19 pandemic was an eye opener on how much food is consumed by households as the nation went into lockdown and how an ineffective and irresponsible government grossly muddled food aid or, “bakul makanan”, triggering the “bendera putih” or white flag scenario, which led to kind and concerned Malaysians creating apps and systems so that fellow Malaysians would not go hungry.

Time to buck up

We have seven years left to achieve our SDG targets and as Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim spoke so eloquently at the UN General Assembly, “we are falling behind, with nearly a third of the targets either at the state of inertia or worse, regressing”.

Therefore, it is absolutely important that Malaysia pulls up her socks and takes the matter of “bread and butter” seriously.

Sustainable food systems are resilient food systems, and we must cater to addressing the needs of the industry players in the market, reducing food loss and managing waste.

For example, France is the number-one country in reducing waste, banning food waste in grocery stores and legislating a law that grocery stores must donate edible food instead of throwing it out.

In Germany, a packaging law requires businesses that produce packaging to contribute towards the cost of recycling and recovery.

In Japan, a national food bank called Second Harvest was introduced to rescue edible food from grocery stores and also a recent Food Recycling Law that diverts food waste towards centres that convert it to compost, animal feed, and energy.

Under the Madani government, with the introduction of the Rahmah concept through food purchases and food menus and the setting up of food banks by the late domestic trade and cost of living minister, Salahuddin Ayub, many Malaysians have shared heart-wrenching stories of kindness and compassion when it comes to having an affordable, decent, hot and hearty meal which is kind to the purse.

However, more needs to be done and we can start the conversation in schools, encouraging sustainable home-grown vegetables and fruits, converting small patches of land into community farming projects and, on a larger scale, a campaign to minimise food loss and to increase waste management.

I look forward to the 2024 budget and the government’s obligation to include the item on food loss and wastage as a priority to safeguard food security and reduce food loss.

“Food waste is like stealing from the table of those who are poor and hungry.” – Pope Francis. - Mkini

TERESA KOK is Seputeh MP and DAP vice-chairperson.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of MMKtT.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.