How climate change is impacting food loss


Pippa Hudson speaks to Dr Honest Machekano, a lecturer in the Department of Zoology and Entomology at the University of Pretoria about how we address South Africa’s massive food waste problem.

– Food loss and waste in South Africa is estimated at 9.04 million tonnes per year.

– Climate change is a major factor in food loss at a production level.

– More support is needed for small-scale farmers to offset the losses in food.

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Picture: © gasses/123rf.com

Food waste is being exacerbated by climate change and depleting natural resources.

That’s according to one expert, on the International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste being marked on 29 September.

Despite soaring food prices and concerns around food security, South Africa wastes more than 9 million tons of food every single year.

That’s a whopping 150 kilograms of edible food being wasted by every person in the country.

At the same time, 30 million people do not have access to regular, nutritious foods.

Pippa Hudson speaks to Dr Honest Machekano, Lecturer in the Department of Zoology and Entomology at the University of Pretoria about how we address South Africa’s massive food waste problem.

The challenge is the consciousness. People are not aware that they’re throwing away that amount of food. So this is one of the challenges that must be addressed.

Dr Honest Machekano, Department of Zoology and Entomology at the University of Pretoria

Food loss and food waste is a major global problem, that represents the economic losses across the food supply chains.

Food loss takes place from the harvesting period up until the household point where consumers access it.

Food waste is the decisions made by consumers, for example, overbuying food or cooking too much food.

Food loss is the inevitable component of the food chain but the waste is a result of the decisions by the consumers.

Dr Honest Machekano, Department of Zoology and Entomology at the University of Pretoria

Dr Machekano’s field of study is looking at the role of pests in food damage and the losses as a result. His research from him is helping small scale farmers store their produce in a way that extends its longevity.

Because of climate change, we have a proliferation of insects. If you look at the grain value chain like wheat and maize, they are being damaged by insects. If we scale it down to small scale farmers who don’t have the technologies to reduce this damage, this is the knowledge gap we’re trying to fill.

Dr Honest Machekano, Department of Zoology and Entomology at the University of Pretoria

Most small-scale farmers do not have access to reliable electricity. So we’re trying to create innovative, low cost local storage systems that can prevent insect damage and give small scale farmers a chance to produce more and play a role in the economy.

Dr Honest Machekano, Department of Zoology and Entomology at the University of Pretoria

Scroll up for the interview.


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