Bangladesh has a per capita household food wastage of 65 kg per year, but at the same time, the country falls under the "serious" hunger severity category in the latest Global Hunger Index (GHI) report.
Bangladesh scored 20.4 out of 100, ranking 75th out of 107 countries in the index. A score of zero indicates no hunger with higher scores denoting higher hunger severity.
Though Bangladesh improved 13 notches in the index, 13 percent of the country's total population experience undernourishment.
The GHI provides a score based on Undernourishment, Child Wasting, Child Stunting and Child Mortality.
Stunting affected around 4.3 million children under the age of five in Bangladesh in 2020 while approximately 300,000 children were overweight.
According to the recent "Food Waste Index Report 2021" published by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Waste and Resources Action Program (WRAP), Bangladeshi households waste 10.62 million tonnes of food every year.
Globally, 931 million tonnes of food are wasted every year, accounting for 17 percent of the total food production. Surprisingly, 61 percent of the food wastage occurs in households.
SDG 2.2: Ensuring "ZERO HUNGER"
The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 has a target of achieving "zero hunger" by 2030. SDG 2.2 has three indicators: stunting (2.2.1), wasting (2.2.2a) and overweight (2.2.2b), which are used for monitoring progress of a particular country.
The 2025 target includes reducing the number of children who are stunted by 40 percent while the 2030 target is 50 percent.
The year 2012 has been established as the baseline for observing the improvements for the SDG 2.2 goals. According to Unicef, WHO and World Bank's Joint Malnutrition Estimates (JME), 5.7 million children under 5 in Bangladesh were affected by stunting.
However, this has declined to 4.3 million in 2020. This means that the number of children who have stunted growth has declined by 24.6 percent. The 2025 target is to reduce the figure by 40 percent i.e., bring it down to 3.42 million.
The figure indicates that Bangladesh is "off track", despite some progress, in achieving the 'stunting" sub-goal. The country needs to reduce stunted growth for another 1.8 million children under 5 to meet the goal in the next five years. There was a reduction of only 1.4 million children in eight years from 2012-2020.
Bangladesh is "on track" to achieve the "overweight" sub-goal. The 2025 target is to maintain the childhood overweight prevalence and reduce and maintain childhood overweight to less than three percent.
The proportion of overweight children under 5 was 1.5 percent in 2012, which has risen to 2.1 percent in 2020. This remains below the 2030 target, which has kept Bangladesh on the right track.
About 1.42 million children were affected by food wastage in 2019.
SDG 12.3: Halve Food waste and reduce Food Loss
SDG 12.3 aims at halving per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels, and reducing food losses along the production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses.
SDG 12.3 has 2 indicators: Food Loss Index (12.3.1.a), Food Waste Index (12.3.1.b) to monitor the progress.
To track the progress regionally and nationally on food waste, the first report on food waste, dubbed the 'Food Waste Index 2021' generated a new estimate of global food waste at different levels.
The first edition of the index reported that Bangladesh had the second lowest per capita food wastage of 65 kg a year in South Asia, whereas the world average of household food wastage was 74kg per capita.
Ensuring food security for all
Bangladesh constantly struggles in ensuring food security. Food security in Bangladesh has been further threatened by the shock of the coronavirus pandemic.
The country has been ranked as the most food insecure country in South Asia while named as the third-most food insecure country in Asia, according to the Global Food Security Index 2020 published by the Economist Intelligence Unit.
Agricultural economist and the Vice Chancellor of the University of Global Village Prof. Dr. Jahangir Alam Khan said, "Due to floods, the production of rice dropped by 15 to 20 tons during the last Aman season. This has caused a supply shortage."
The food wastage culture is hurting Bangladesh more than ever. To ensure food security for all, along with adopting proper measures to mitigate food loss, food wastage culture should be strongly prevented.
Muhammad Nafis Shahriar Farabi is working as a Junior Research Assistant at The Business Standard.