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Cut food waste to help feed the world, experts say

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Natasha Elkington/Reuters/File

(Read caption) A woman lifts a sack of recyclable materials at the Dandora Municipal Dumping Site in Kenya's capital, Nairobi. 'We collect food and sell it to pig farmers on the outskirts of the city,' says Eunice Khasandi, one of an estimated 6,000 scavengers who collect food scraps at the dump.

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Stick to what’s written on your shopping list. Check food expiration dates. Cook just enough but no more.

These and a few other simple practices can help curb global food waste, which amounts to 1.3 billion tons of food every year, experts say.

This is vital at a time when climate change and population growth are reducing the availability of food for millions of vulnerable people around the world, they add.

“With the World Bank warning of the possibility of a four-degrees-centigrade [7 degrees F.] temperature rise by the end of the decade and an expected world population of 9 billion by 2050, global food production and supply is going to be highly affected,” Dennis Garrity, United Nations drylands ambassador and senior fellow at the World Agroforestry Center told AlertNet in Nairobi. “The time to act is now.” 

There are 870 million hungry people in the world today, experts estimate, but droughts, floods, storms, and climate-related plant diseases, among many other factors, continually reduce access to food.

Now experts say that cutting the amount of food that goes to waste, both in the developed and developing world, is key to addressing this.

One of Africa’s food waste hotspots is the Dandora rubbish dump on the outskirts of Nairobi.

The 30-acre piece of land receives 2,000 tons of solid waste every day, an uncertain share of it food waste. The presence of pigs, marabou storks, dogs, and other animals – as well as human scavengers – indicates there is plenty to eat, however.

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