Report: Waste reduction and diets alleviate shortages

The OECD has published a study dealing with the effect of the conflict in Ukraine on the international agricultural market. According to a scenario of the international organization, international wheat prices could increase by 34% during the 2022/2023 campaign, if Ukraine’s export capacities were to be reduced to zero and Russian wheat exports to fall by 50%.

Measures aimed at increasing the supply or reducing the demand for agricultural products should also be considered, but they will be more effective in the medium term.

The impacts on food insecurity

According to the international organization, the conflict in Ukraine threatens global food security. Many food-importing countries, many of which fall into the category of low-income, food-deficit countries, are dependent on Russian and Ukrainian food supplies to meet domestic demand.

This is how several countries bring in more than half and sometimes up to 100% of the wheat imported from Russia and Ukraine. Some of them are moreover plagued by internal conflicts and experience a precarious situation in terms of food security. For these countries, it is imperative to find other sources of supply to meet their needs.

Control the demand

In terms of controlling demand and in order to alleviate the severity of the food crisis, the OECD recommends reducing the demand for agricultural products for uses other than human food, since cereals, oilseeds and other products used in particular for purposes other than human food, in particular to feed animals.

There is also a call to limit food loss and waste. With the food that is lost or wasted each year, an estimated 1.26 billion people could be fed. Reducing these losses and waste is an attractive solution in that it reduces the overall demand for agricultural products and alleviates pressures on the environment.

Promoting the evolution of diets is also an avenue to explore in order to reduce the scale of the threat of food insecurity. It is pointed out that a fall in the consumption of products of animal origin in countries where it is high in relation to the number of inhabitants could contribute to lowering the demand for animal feed.

Changing diets is, however, a long-term process, and food consumption statistics show that the respective shares of major food products do not change much from year to year. Public policies can certainly promote this change, but not at the pace needed to meet current shortages, we conclude.

Losses in the cereal sector in Tunisia

The cereal sector is currently experiencing a serious crisis due to the difficulties encountered in supplying the country normally, particularly with common wheat, but losses and waste in the sector in Tunisia are very heavy. These are losses of production and consumption caused mainly by the obsolescence of harvesting and storage equipment and the waste of bread.

The obsolescence of the harvesting machines and their inadequacy to the relief cause the loss, according to specialists, of part of the cereal production which can reach up to 12%. Out of 10 million quintals, 1.2 million quintals are thus wasted. In the United States, in Europe, in Russia, this kind of loss does not exceed 1%.

On another level, a recent study, carried out by the INC in Tunisia, relating to the waste of bread, showed that 900,000 units of bread are wasted per day, that is to say a value of 100 million dinars per year.

The solution to reducing waste lies, according to specialists, in the organization of mass media awareness campaigns, in parallel with the deployment of additional efforts to improve the quality of bread so that it is consumable over a period of time. relatively long with the encouragement of recycling of lost quantities.

As a reminder, in addition to the importance of cereals in agricultural production by the area occupied and the jobs they generate, these constitute the basis of the Tunisian food ration. Thus they provide 49% of calories and 51% of proteins. Despite the downward trend in annual cereal consumption from 204.4 kg/person/year in 1985 to 174.3 kg/person/year in 2015, cereals account for 13% on average of household food expenditure, i.e. about 4% of overall expenditure.

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