Environment has become a growing concern for all of us due to its indiscriminate exploitation by humans throughout the world. However, in some way or almost all countries have acknowledged of date the importance of environment, nature and its biological diversity, for their sustenance and have therefore understood the need of ecological conservation.
The theme of this year's World Environment Day is Think.Eat.Save. Reduce your foodprint verging on conservation. This theme has been agreed to promote an anti-food waste and food loss campaign. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), every year 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted. This is equivalent to the same amount produced in the whole of sub-Saharan Africa. At the same time, 1 in every 7 people in the world go to bed hungry and more than 20,000 children under the age of 5 die daily from hunger(UNEP).
The global food crisis is a dire reality for millions of the world's poorest of the poor and it is the key concern for the international community. In Bangladesh food security is one of the burning national issues. The economy of Bangladesh largely depends on agriculture with more than 80 per cent rice production. Therefore, when the production of rice runs short in Bangladesh, people face serious food problem. Despite having more than 90 per cent of cultivable land, we cannot produce enough food to feed our people sufficiently every year. For this there is significant shortage of food in our country.
Bangladesh has adopted the National Food Policy in 2006 which is the main policy document on food security. The policy outlines three main objectives, e.g., adequate and stable supply of safe and nutritious food; increased purchasing power and access to food of the people; adequate nutrition for all individuals, especially women and children.
In fact, in Bangladesh, extensive studies on food wastes are not available but seemingly the volume of wasted food is not negligible in the country. BBC report says about 12 per cent rice and 15 per cent wheat get wasted in different steps of harvesting processes. Though the economy of this country largely depends on agriculture, our seed conservation process is very underprivileged and unscientific. Due to improper seed conservation practices 3 per cent of rice is considered wasted in Bangladesh. Farmers straggle a lot to preserve their crops not always successfully due to lack of proper infrastructure. We could not built proper storage system for the poor farmer of the remote rural areas. Consequently, the wastage rate is alarmingly high -- 40 per cent for perishable items like vegetables and fruits. Apart from the food wasted in the different stages of harvesting, wastage occurs as a result of lack of transportation and suitable marketing system as well.
The impact of food waste is not just financial matter. Environmentally, food waste leads to wasteful use of chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides; more fuel used for transportation; and more rotting food, creating more methane – one of the most harmful greenhouse gases that contributes to climate change. Methane is 23 times more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse gas. The vast amount of food going to landfills makes a significant contribution to global warming.
Rising food prices create tremendous pressure on the lives of poor and hard core people of this country, for whom basic food can consume as much as two-thirds of their income.To balance with food price hike, usually poor people tend to reduce food intake what ultimately impact their nutritional stability.
Bad food habits can be quite detrimental to our health as well. The food we consume plays a significant role in determining our health, fitness and longevity. To maintain a healthy life, it is very much important to practice healthy food habits and balanced diet. Habit of taking junk food has been increased extensively in our country. Although, timing of food intake is also very important to maintain a balance life cycle. Most of us are not conscious about food safety in open food courts and restaurants. So, not only the producers, traders or suppliers, we the unintelligent consumers are also sufficiently responsible for food abuse and health hazards.
There are numerous environmental issues that now affect the whole world. On this environment day, the world is urging each one of us to think before we act and help save our environment. Our planet is struggling to provide us with sufficient resources, therefore, it is the time that mankind desperately needs to start performing their task to reduce the disaster risk and save the environment. Now it is the proper time to awake up and make the nation healthy through wise decision on utilisation and conservation. Let us not wait to change our habit, we should act from today sooner than later.
The writer works with Christian Aid on Climate and Disaster Resilience. She can be reached at NNahar@christian-aid.org