On the first-ever observance of the International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste, on September 29th, 2020 the WFO President Theo de Jager was invited to attend a special virtual panel discussion on the role of innovation.
The event, jointly organized by FAO and UNEP, aimed at raising awareness on the need to transform and rebalance the way our food is produced and consumed, accentuated even more during the global COVID-19 pandemic, and the need to harness and scale-up innovation and technologies to stem the problem.
“When COVID began, De Jager reminded opening his speech farmers could go on with their business, but many of the value chains have been destroyed by lockdowns (closure of markets, restaurants, canteens and school feeding schemes) and a huge amount of food got lost or wasted on the farm. Farmers decided to react immediately and in many countries, like for instance Kenya or Zimbabwe, started to implement new technologies, deploying several initiatives raised by the young farmers, finding the opportunity beyond the huge threat of the pandemic.
Avoiding food losses and waste is something farmers are actually very familiar with: “Farmers are wondering what the difference between circular economy and farming is because farming has always been somehow circular. Many products that are wasted in the value chain can be used on the farm, for instance as animal feed and, if not, as compost. We should incentivize more and more the participation of farmers in this kind of initiatives, to maximise the effects of circular economy.
“Technology is and will be more and more a game-changer from now on: it evolves fast and is totally transforming what and how we produce. Younger generations are pushing hard for digital solutions to be made available and accessible. I am confident that farmers, including smallholders, will catch up and will learn to use it, especially thanks to mobile solutions. And this will contribute to reduce food losses and waste and generate more sustainable food systems”