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March 20, 2018

One third of Christmas food was wasted, says UN agency

Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir and Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho greet revellers ushering in 2018 on Mama Ngina Drive, Mombasa / JOHN CHESOLI
Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir and Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho greet revellers ushering in 2018 on Mama Ngina Drive, Mombasa / JOHN CHESOLI

Close to one third of all the food Kenyans prepared for Christmas and New Year festivities may have gone to waste, according to several estimates.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the food was spoiled or wasted before it is consumed.

The problem of food wastage worsens during festivities and FAO has now began a New Year resolution campaign to end it.

“The holidays are a great time to celebrate food and to appreciate it. Yet, holidays have, in some parts of the world, become synonymous with over-eating and food waste,” says FAO.

Food is usually lost or wasted throughout the supply chain, from the farm down to cooked food that is never eaten and is thrown away.

“And food isn’t the only thing that is wasted when it goes uneaten: all of the resources, like seeds, water, feed, money and labour that go into making it are also lost,” FAO said.

The wastage is ironical in Kenya because currently, about three million people have no food and only survive on donations from the government and wellwishers.

University of Nairobi researcher Dr Jane Ambuko said although the figures are not Kenya-specific, the general estimate is still accurate.

“What we have is a blanket figure from the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation that indicates that average loss is 30 per cent and 1.3 tonnes of food loss,” she said recently.

In the current campaign, FAO is asking people across the world to donate what they did not consume over Christmas and New Year.

“If you buy extra cans, dried goods or other non-perishable food that can be donated, there are many local charities that happily accept these foods,” the organisation says.

Families can also eat some of that food instead of preparing fresh food.

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