Wednesday 8 January 2020


By Ogbole Esther

Food waste in sub-Saharan Africa for me is personal because each day I live the experiences of massive waste in times of surplus (harvest months) and severe lack and hunger during the 'off' season. Over the years, I have come across very interesting quotes on food waste which has motivated me to take action, such as;
·        Dont bite off more than you can chew! – Anonymous
·        Someone is dying for the food youre throwing away! – Anonymous
·        You paid good money for that, why throw it away? – Anonymous
Of the many quotes I have come across, one that constantly comes to mind; reminding me of the effect of food wastage on the future generation is, Todays wastage is Tomorrows shortage”.

The state of Food Waste in sub-Saharan Africa

''A report published in 2013 estimated that up to 50 percent of the world’s food production ended up in the trash bin. In wealthy countries this food is often thrown away at the consumer and retail level due to excessive purchases and portions or ridiculous standards for food appearance and shape. In poor countries food ends up being lost before it even reaches the table due to lack of infrastructure, poor refrigeration, or unreliable transportation''. In fact, the FAO estimates that Africa as a whole loses enough food annually to feed 300 million, or nearly a third of all of Sub-Saharan Africa. At the same time, over 200 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa are today undernourished''.

Food waste along the value-chain

Although Paffit, Barthel and MacNaughton (2010)  suggested  that food waste may occur along different stages of the food supply chain, vis-a-vis harvesting, threshing, drying, storage, processing, product elevation, packaging, marketing and distribution, post-consumer and end of life; food wastage at post-consumer stage cuts across different individuals in the society irrespective of whether you are a producer, processor, distributor or consumer. Thus, Alexander, Gregson & Gille (2013) stated that food waste at this stage – post-consumer – has received the most attention over the years.
According to a report by the Food and Agriculture Organisation – food waste not only has social and economic effects but environmental effects as well; referring to food wastage as a missed opportunity to improve global food security. This is because it reduces food availability, depletes or wastes resources used in production, processing and distribution, negatively affects the efforts of farmers, whilst silently depleting the income of consumers and polluting the environment simultaneously. Summarily, food waste weakens the food system.
Beyond the numerous implications food waste has on a society, an important one is the deprivation of essential nutrients we may need tomorrow, which is why it is important to adopt simple measures in addition to structural changes such as recycling wastes, public sensitization, providing electricity for improved storage and formulating policies to checkmate food waste as well as support organizations that promote sustainable food systems.

Wondering how you can reduce your food waste and help achieve food security?

·     shopping smart (buy only what you can consume per time)
·    make a shopping list before each shopping, buy ugly fruits – whether they are crooked or have a protruding back – because they contain as much nutrients as the good-looking fruits
·      avoid over-feeding (eat just as much as you need)
·     check your fridge before shopping (this saves you buying what you already have) 
·        buy loose fruits and vegetables as against pre-packaged ones just to ensure you buy the exact quantity you need,
·   encourage the establishment of urban and school gardens to inspire kids to get involved in the production of the fruits and veg they love.

Engaging in these little habits in addition to government efforts will ensure we fulfill a moral obligation that involves ensuring that food is available for all by avoiding food wastage because to throw food away means to throw people away” – Pope Francis.

My name is Ogbole Esther Ojonugwa, a graduate of General Agriculture with a major in Agricultural Economics from the Federal University of Technology, Minna – Niger State, Nigeriacurrently undergoing a Masters Degree Programme in Agricultural Economics at the University of Abuja. 


FAO (2018): Food Loss and Waste and the Right to Adequate Food. Right to Food Discussion Paper
Alexander, C., Gregson, N. & Gille, Z. (2013). Food Waste. 10.13140/2.1.2239.2964.
Paffit J., Barthel M., and MacNaughton S.(2010): Food Waste Within Supply Chains: Quantification and Potential for Change to 2050. The Royal Society.


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