Food Wasted, Food Lost

Cereal production increase

Area cultivated and yield per hectare Percentage


Yield Kilogrammes per hectare



Area cultivated hectares








Source: World Bank Indicators, on line database, accessed on September 2013

quality standards and processing requirements contribute to food loss en route to consumers (Springer 2013).

38 under cultivation (Tilman 1999). Wrong or excessive application of chemical fertilizersmay have negative effects on the environment as well as human health (Godfray et al. 2010; FAO 2013a). Ecologist David Tilman (1999) argues that the next doubling of global food production would be driven by a threefold increase in nitrogen and phosphorus fertilization rates, a doubling of the irrigated land area and an 18 per cent increase in cropland. The concern is that these inputs will further alter the diversity, composition and functioning of the world’s natural ecosystems significantly, and affect their ability to provide society with essential ecosystem goods and services such as food. Based on past trends in agricultural expansion, Tilman et al. (2001) estimated that 1 000 million hectares of natural ecosystems would need to be converted to agriculture by 2050, and this together with increases in nitrogen- and phosphorus-driven eutrophication of terrestrial, freshwater and near-shore marine ecosystems, would cause dramatic ecosystem simplification and significant loss of ecosystem services such as food production. Food loss and waste in agricultural production Food loss during agricultural production is caused by a variety of factors including damage by pests, diseases and unfavorable weather, poor handling and premature harvesting. Selective harvesting, labour shortages, over-planting, natural drying, spillage and spoilage during transportation also cause food loss and waste. Market-based practices such as stringent

In developing countries, losses in the agricultural production and post-harvest stage are highest. Of the total amount of food that is lost and wasted in sub-Saharan Africa, as much as 67 per cent is lost during the two first stages of the supply chain. In South and South-East Asia the situation is similar, with just over 60 per cent lost during production and post-harvesting, closely followed by Latin America at about 62 per cent. High losses in the early stages of the supply chain are mainly due to inadequate financial and structural resources for proper harvesting, storage and transportation, as well as unfavourable climatic conditions for food preservation (FAO 2013b). Two food categories – fruits and vegetables, and roots and tubers – have the highest percentage of loss during agricultural production and post-harvest, at about 22–26 per cent. These are also the commodities that have the highest overall loss and waste rates, both at approximately 45 per cent. About 30 per cent of all cereal production is lost or wasted, while 23 per cent of oilseeds and pulses, and meat, and 17 per cent of dairy products are lost or wasted (FAO 2012c).

According to the FAO (2013b), 1.4 billion hectares of land, or 28 per cent of the world’s agricultural land area, is used every

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