Food Loss, Waste, a Barrier to Poverty Reduction

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The world loses or wastes one-quarter to one-third of all food produced for human consumption, according to the latest issue of the World Bank’s quarterly Food Price Watch citing Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Resources Institute estimates.
In regions rife with undernourishment, such as Africa and South Asia, this shocking loss translates to 400 to 500 calories per person, per day—and up to 1520 calories in the developed world.
World Bank Group president Jim Yong Kim said “The amount of food wasted and lost globally is shameful.” “Millions of people around the world go to bed hungry every night and yet millions of tons of food end up in trash cans or spoiled on the way to market. We have to tackle this problem in every country in order to improve food security and to end poverty.”
According to the latest edition of Food Price Watch , global food prices declined by 3 percent over the last quarter but remain close to historical peaks, driven by record-setting harvests in wheat, maize and rice, increased supplies, and stronger global stocks.
Domestic prices showed large variations across countries, as is typical. Stable prices continue among a number of regions, while mixed trends are evident in East and South Asia, as a result of seasonal factors, procurement policies, and localized production shortfalls.
According to the report, the Bank’s Food Price Index in January 2014 was 11 percent lower than a year ago, and 18 percent below the all-time peak in August 2012. However, prices over the last quarter declined by only half the amount of the previous quarter (June-October 2013). Wheat prices notably declined by 15 percent this quarter, reversing previously seen increases (especially in October 2013), and the price of internationally traded maize fell by 2 percent, extending the consecutive price decline to nine months.
Pressures on food prices are expected to weaken in the short term, with normal trends in terms of crop conditions anticipated in the coming months. However, weather concerns in Argentina, Australia, and parts of China, higher oil prices, and the anticipated release of rice stockpiles in Thailand, need continued careful monitoring.
The report also outlines the economic, environmental, natural resources and poverty implications of food loss and waste, and suggests engineering and policy interventions in developing and developed countries to tackle this growing issue.
How the World Bank Group is helping
The World Bank Group says it is committed to boosting agriculture and agriculture-related investment.
 In 2013, new Bank Group commitments to agriculture and related sectors were US$8.1 billion.   For IBRD/IDA, assistance to agriculture and related sectors has risen from an average of 9 percent of total lending in FY10-12, to 12 percent in FY13.
The International Finance Corporation (IFC), according to the World Bank, made US$4.4 billion in private sector investments across the food supply chain in FY13. These investments, the Bank said supported projects that promote access to finance, access to inputs like seeds, equipment and advice, and access to markets through infrastructure and food-processing facilities.

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