Food waste is main cause of global hunger, says UN agency official

IFAD President Gilbert F. Houngbo. (Photo courtesy IFAD)
Updated 17 September 2017
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Food waste is main cause of global hunger, says UN agency official

DUBAI: Food wastage, rather than a shortage of resources, is the key factor behind global hunger, according to the head of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
Gilbert Houngbo, president of the UN agency, said there is more than enough food being produced to feed the world’s population of over 7 billion people.
Food waste does however represent a tragic loss of resources and should be addressed, Houngbo said in an interview with Arab News.
“The lack of food management and huge food wastage is creating a hungry population,” he said.
Food loss and wastage affects 40 percent or more of the total amount of food produced, he added.
Houngbo was speaking following the release of a UN report “The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2017,” released on Friday. He stressed the need to create awareness about food waste.
“We need to educate people. We need to find ways not only to produce food that is full of nutrition, but also to stop waste and bring about programs to teach people about how to value the food which is reaching... their tables.”
According to the UN report, global hunger is on the rise again, affecting 815 million people in 2016, or 11 percent of the global population.
That marked an increase of 38 million people compared to 2015, with the rise largely due to a proliferation of violent conflicts and climate-related shocks, the report said.
Asia has the largest share of hungry people with 520 million of the total, followed by Africa with 243 million and Latin America and the Caribbean with 42 million.
The number of children under five suffering from stunted growth stands at 155 million, while 52 million are underweight. The report also found that 41 million children under 5 are overweight, while 641 million adults are obese.
Houngbo said climate change has a direct impact on food production, which eventually increases the risk of food insecurity as well as malnutrition, particularly among children.
“If we look at what happened in the Americas in the last two weeks due to hurricanes, and the floods in South Asia, we can imagine what can happen to our crops, fisheries and livestock in just a few weeks, which means more hunger,” he said.
Houngbo said investment in rural areas was key given the high level of migration to urban areas.
“For me the major concern is that we should make lots of investment in villages so that people do not have to leave their homes in search of better quality of living. We should provide them quality of life in their villages,” he said.
Farmers need support, better facilities and direct access to the market, Houngbo added.
“They need our support for improved seeds, smart use of irrigation, technology, better infrastructure and facilities that give them better quality of life. Our challenge is that people should start taking agriculture seriously as a profitable business, and consider rural areas as a place to invest,” he said.
Out of 815 million hungry people on the planet, more than half lives in conflict zones, according to the UN report. Houngbo pointed to the dangers of food insecurity in societies. “The right to food is a basic right that every government has to provide its citizens. Hunger causes desperation and threatens social stability,” he said.
Houngbo is however optimistic about the future, saying that many countries have started realizing the importance of a strong agriculture industry.
“I am very optimistic because in recent years countries have started realizing that they can’t put all their eggs in one basket in the name of development and hence they have to diversify,” he said.
“Hence more and more countries are going back to the agriculture sector, which not only improves their exports but also makes sure that they have enough food for their citizens.”


Trump fan to plead guilty to 2018 package bombs

Updated 2 min 37 sec ago
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Trump fan to plead guilty to 2018 package bombs

  • The package bombs’ intended recipients included billionaire philanthropist George Soros, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, former president Barack Obama
  • Cesar Sayoc’s criminal record dates back to 1991

NEW YORK: A fan of US President Donald Trump who mailed parcel bombs to prominent Democratic figures last October was set to appear in court Thursday, where he was expected to plead guilty to some of the 30 charges against him.
Cesar Sayoc, 57, who was arrested in Florida on October 26 following a massive manhunt, was due in federal court in New York at 4:00 p.m.
Although it was not known which charges he would plead guilty to, all relate to the 16 package bombs he is accused of mailing from a Florida post office to several well-known people who oppose Trump, as well as the Manhattan offices of CNN. He previously pleaded not guilty to all counts.
The packages’ intended recipients included billionaire philanthropist George Soros, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, former president Barack Obama, former vice president Joe Biden, actor Robert De Niro and several Democratic lawmakers, including 2020 presidential hopefuls Cory Booker and Kamala Harris.
None of the packages exploded or even reached their targets and authorities questioned the actual danger they posed.
But by targeting Democrats, Sayoc — who also goes by the alias Cesar Altieri and was identified by DNA recovered from the packages — helped contribute to heightened tensions during the US midterm election campaign season.
Sayoc’s partial guilty plea Thursday could help mitigate the severity of a sentence if he is convicted on all counts.
As his trial loomed, information from Sayoc’s past began to filter into the public sphere, fueling the debate about extremism in the age of Trump and social media — a debate that grew more urgent as 11 people were shot dead at a Pittsburgh synagogue later in October.
Estranged from his family and in financial distress, Sayoc lived in a white van plastered in stickers proclaiming his admiration for the US president.
His criminal record dates back to 1991, peppered with convictions for theft, fraud, violence and a threat to bomb his electric utility company.
A former strip club manager and an adept bodybuilder and martial arts practitioner, Sayoc discovered a passion for Trump just as his political star was rising.
His social media posts took a politically radical turn: he’s seen wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat, sharing pro-Trump images and posting articles from ultra-conservative and conspiracy-driven websites such as Infowars and Breitbart.
“He was very angry and angry at the world, at blacks, Jews, gays,” recalled Debra Gureghian, the general manager of a Florida pizzeria where Sayoc worked as a delivery driver for several months.
Lawyer Ron Lowy, who defended Sayoc in 2002 and remained close to his family, described him on NPR in October as someone whose “intellect is limited, and who is “like a little boy in a man’s body.”