World Environment Day 2013: UN Rallies Zambians to Avoid Food Wastage
Messages of avoiding food wastage resonated across Zambia as scores of stakeholders from diverse background including senior government officials, students and youth groups gathered at the Levy Business Park, downtown Lusaka to commemorate World Environment Day.
UNDP, the lead agency in the Environment and Climate Change sector in Zambia, together with other members of the UN family collaborated with the Ministry of Lands, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection in organizing awareness raising activities in line with this year’s theme, ‘Think. Eat. Save,’ which was created to encourage the prevention of food wastage, and to raise awareness about the environmental impact of the food choices people make.
Speaking at the occasion, the Acting UN Resident Coordinator in Zambia, Simon Cammelbeeck, implored Zambians to take action to avoid food wastage as it can lead to food insecurity, particularly for the poor who may not have access to the required daily intake of essential nutrients and important vitamins. “There is certainly a lot we can do as a nation to narrow the hunger and nutrition gap and improve the well-being of women, children and men, by addressing the massive losses and wastage inherent in our food supply chain,” Mr. Cammelbeeck said.
According to a statement delivered on 14 May 2013, Zambia’s Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, Honorable Robert Sichinga put the country’s post-harvest loss at 32 percent of maize grain due to lack of proper storage facilities. Accordingly, out of the 3.7 million tonnes of grain harvested in the past years, the country only managed to account for 1.7 million tonnes of grain, with the rest going to waste.
In his address, Honorable Danny Chingimbu, Deputy Minister of Lands, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection stated that Zambia produces sufficient food to feed its population but said a lot of it is wasted due to lack of capacity to process and preserve excess agro-produce and other foods. “It is appalling to see so much food goes to waste considering the huge cost needed to produce and transport them. We should not tolerate this kind of waste of precious agricultural products,” Deputy Minister Chingimbu said.
Primary school kids recited poems urging the public to reduce food waste and curtail the environmental impact of food production in the country. A drama performed by a cultural group as well as songs sung by various groups all reverberated the call for collective action to reduce food waste.
The youths of Zambia also echoed similar appeal. “We the youths request the government to ensure that Zambians are encouraged to become more aware of the environmental impact of our food choice and to select foods that have less impacts on the environment such as organic foods,” said Tehillah Mwanza, a senior student of the Matero Girls Secondary School who delivered a speech on behalf of the young people of Zambia.
There were stands erected outside of the main event on 5 June which served as a major side-attraction as participants and bystanders thronged to view the exhibits and get information on environmental issues. For instance, UN Volunteers ultilised the opportunity to raise awareness with the public on how they can cut down on unnecessary waste that pollutes their environment.