Stop wasting precious food resources for the good of the people, the planet, and the country alike was the message from the UN and the Turkish government on Wednesday.
Launching a campaign Wednesday, Turkey’s Agriculture and Forestry Ministry and the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) held a joint livestream to raise public awareness of the detrimental impact of food loss and waste, and to stimulate action along the food supply chain.
The new campaign plans to widen consumer knowledge of the benefits of reducing food waste and encourage the development of waste prevention habits, to help achieve profound and lasting changes in the way that people consume food.
Speaking at the launch of the Save Your Food campaign, Agriculture and Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli underlined the importance of well-coordinated and knowledge-based efforts to achieve the campaign goal.
It is of “utmost importance that all actors work together to raise awareness of the problem and bring about a culture of sustainable production and consumption,” Pakdemirli said.
He stressed that Turkey wastes 18.8 million tons of food every year.
“The highest food losses and waste are seen in fresh fruits and vegetables across Turkey, followed by ready-to-eat meals and bread,” Pakdemirli noted.
Touching on Turkey’s existing campaign focused on preventing bread waste, Pakdemirli said the country has saved 1 million loaves of bread daily and 2.8 billion Turkish liras ($400 million) annually.
Curbing food loss and waste means revising institutional and legal frameworks, improving methods of food production, conservation and distribution, and changing resource-intensive consumption patterns, according to the FAO.
Viorel Gutu, FAO representative in Turkey, said as 820 million people struggle with hunger worldwide, losing or wasting this amount of food is “morally unacceptable.”
Also spotlighting the greenhouse gases (GHG) unnecessarily emitted in the production of wasted food, Gutu said:
“Reducing food loss and waste is therefore seen as a way to improve food security and nutrition, reduce GHG emissions, and ease pressure on natural resources.”
The campaign is Turkey’s first national strategy and action plan on food loss and waste, Gutu highlighted.
“Needless to say, Turkey will set a great example during this period and we will gladly provide our technical knowledge and expertise whenever needed,” he stressed.
Gutu also said the launch will be the beginning of a regional initiative that will pave the way for neighboring countries to develop their own national strategies and action plans.
The campaign forms part of the project Reduction of Food Loss and Waste in the Countries of Central Asia, funded by Turkey through the FAO-Turkey Partnership Program on Food and Agriculture.
The overarching objective of the FAO-Turkey Partnership Program is to provide support to ensuring food security and rural poverty reduction in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
Established in 2007, the program benefits from trust fund contributions totaling $20 million to date, financed by the government of Turkey, and represented by the Agriculture and Forestry Ministry.
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