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Food wasted, food lost: Food security by restoring ecosystems and reducing food loss

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Abstract

Food security is critical for health, labour productivity, economic growth and sustainable development. Regional and local food insecurity, coupled with the need to develop innovative and sustainable solutions aimed at increasing food production, are some of the pressing challenges the world faces in securing the food demands of its population which is expected to grow to 9.6 billion by 2050. It is argued in this assessment that ecosystem degradation is a major cause of loss in potential food production, while human practices and consumer preferences, among other factors, are blamed not only for food loss but also food waste
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Food wasted, food lost
Food security by restoring ecosystems and reducing food loss
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Formo, R. K., Jørstad, H., Nellemann, C., Mafuta, C., Munang,
R., Andrews, J., and Hval J. N. (Eds). 2014. Food Wasted, Food
Lost – Food Security by Restoring Ecosystems and Reducing
Food Loss. United Nations Environment Programme and GRID-
Arendal, Nairobi and Arendal, www.grida.no
ISBN: ----
Printed by Birkeland Trykkeri AS, Norway
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Editorial team
Cartography
Rannveig Knutsdatter Formo
Hanne Jørstad
Christian Nellemann
Clever Mafuta
Richard Munang
Jesica Andrews
Julie Nåvik Hval
Riccardo Pravettoni
Food wasted, food lost
Food security by restoring ecosystems and reducing food loss
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Contents
Summary
Recommendations for action
Introduction
Ecosystem restoration for food security
Food loss and waste in agro-ecosystems
Food loss and waste in forest ecosystems
Food loss and waste in aquatic ecosystems
Conclusion
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Summary
Food security is critical for health, labour productivity, economic growth and sustainable
development. Regional and local food insecurity, coupled with the need to develop innovative and
sustainable solutions aimed at increasing food production, are some of the pressing challenges
the world faces in securing the food demands of its population which is expected to grow to
9.6 billion by 2050. It is argued in this assessment that ecosystem degradation is a major cause of
loss in potential food production, while human practices and consumer preferences, among other
factors, are blamed not only for food loss but also food waste.
The world’s attention has been primarily focused on expanding
the area under food production to meet growing demand. If the
same model is to be pursued, it is estimated that an additional
130 million hectares of cropland will be needed to support
food production. This represents six per cent of the estimated
2 billion hectares of land that is already degraded, of which
560 million hectares are agricultural land. It therefore makes
economic and sustainability sense to include the restoration of
degraded land as part of the solution to the world food demand,
while also pursuing other ecosystem-based management and
green investment approaches. Such approaches will unlock the
capacity of food producing ecosystems, thus reducing losses in
potential food.
By restoring just a quarter of the 560 million hectares of
degraded agricultural land, the increase in yields could
potentially feed an additional 740 million people. As such, the
restoration of agro-ecosystems can result in the production of
enough food to meet the needs of a quarter of the expected
growth in the world’s human population by 2050. Such
measures should complement other innovative ways such as
the safe capture and conversion of food waste to animal feed.
This can provide one of the greatest opportunities for improving
future food supplies and minimizing the global environmental
footprint. Freeing the cereals currently used as animal feed
for direct human consumption could, in principle, increase
available food calories by as much as 70 per cent, which could
feed an additional 4 billion people. No other single factor can
increase food security this dramatically or counter the eects of
the rising share of cereals that will be used for animal feed from
today’s 30–40 per cent to the 40–50 per cent anticipated to be
needed by 2050.
The majority of the degraded land occurs in the geographic
areas where local food insecurity is most prevalent. Estimates
show that between 2 and 5 million hectares of land are lost
annually due to land degradation, chiefly soil erosion, with
losses being 2 to 6 times higher in Africa, Latin America and
Asia than in North America and Europe. Africa is perhaps the
continent most severely impacted by land degradation. As a
result, yield reductions due to land degradation in some African
countries are as high as 40 per cent, while the global average
ranges from 1–8 per cent.
The restoration of agricultural systems can also provide
major economic improvements, as has been demonstrated in
Niger where land rehabilitation not only helped in improving
soil conservation and water-harvesting, but also resulted in
increased crop yields and tree cover thus aording communities
regular incomes. The restored areas in Niger continued to be
expanded without development assistance and this, together
with the establishment of a land market, resulted in a positive
learning process and a green economy mode of thinking that
became self-driven.
As much as 1.4 billion hectares of land are used to produce the
total amount of food that is lost and wasted. This translates
to more than 100 times the area of tropical rainforests that
are being cleared every year, of which 80 per cent is cleared
for agricultural expansion. Global food production amounts
to more than 4 billion tonnes, or 4 600 kilocalories per capita
per day. However, not all the food produced becomes available
for human consumption since at least one third – over 1.3
billion tonnes – is lost or wasted annually. The lost and wasted
food can easily meet the needs of the daily net increase in
population of 200 000 – 230 000. Food is lost and wasted for
dierent reasons. In developing countries food is lost mainly
during the first stages of the food supply chain – in the field,
in storage or during transportation to markets. In sub-Saharan
Africa alone, food worth US$4 billion is lost before reaching
consumers, and this is enough to feed 48 million people for a
year. In industrialized countries, an estimated 20 – 50 per cent
of food that is bought is wasted by consumers, in addition to
the losses between post-harvest and sale.
The fisheries sector, a major source of protein and livelihoods,
continues to be hampered by unsustainable practices such
as overfishing that is partly blamed on industrial-scale illegal
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fishing mainly by foreign vessels. Small-scale fishers are
vulnerable as they have a lower fishing range, lower capacity
in terms of harvest eciency and a lower buer or alternative
operational range if local areas are overexploited by industrial-
scale fishing. In fewer places is this more critical than in West
Africa where foreign vessels are increasingly overexploiting
local fish stocks, including illegal, unreported and unregulated
fishing. Globally, illegal fisheries account for 14–33 per cent of
the total landings, but in West Africa it is as high as 40 per cent.
Similar problems also exist on the east coast of Africa. Both
regions have high population growth rates and high incidents
of food insecurity – and it is therefore highly problematic that
foreign vessels cause overexploitation of their fish stocks.
Estimates show that the recovery of depleted fish stocks has
the potential of feeding an additional 90 million people, while
the 40 million tonnes of fish and seafood that are discarded can
satisfy the daily protein needs of a further 370 million people
for a year.
Preventing further food loss due to degradation of ecosystems
is a challenge. An estimated 5–25 per cent of the world’s food
production may be lost by 2050 due to climate change, land
degradation, cropland losses, water scarcity and species
infestations. Of these, water scarcity and land degradation are
the most significant, strengthening further the importance of
restoring ecosystems to become more resilient to change.
Dependence on cropland expansion, intensified fisheries and
aquaculture as the only solutions to increasing demands for
food is likely to undermine the very environmental resources
upon which food production is based. Restoring degraded lands
through improved water conservation, tree planting and organic
farming systems, along with reducing illegal fisheries and
unsustainable harvest levels are key components to improving
food security where it is needed most, while sustaining a green
economy and local livelihoods and markets.
In conclusion, with over 2 billion hectares of degraded land,
food produced on 1.4 billion hectares being lost and wasted and
an increasingly large share of food production going to animal
feed, a new agricultural and food consumption paradigm is
needed for sustainable food production. Such a paradigm shift
towards sustainable production calls for investing in better
management of food producing ecosystems.
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Recommendations for action
Restoring agro-ecosystems can help meet the food security needs of as many as 740 million more
people by 2050, a figure that amounts to more than a quarter of the expected growth in the world
population. By recovering depleted fish stock, the increase in available proteins could cover the
daily needs of an additional 90 million people. This report recommends the following options to
protect and restore ecosystems in order to maintain and secure future food production and reduce
food loss and waste:
1. Prioritize ecosystem restoration by implementing sustainable
ecosystem-based management practices as a means to increase
food security and maintain ecosystems.
2. Reduce deforestation and degradation of the world’s forest
ecosystems by increasing enforcement eorts against illegal
logging through strengthening national enforcement capacity
and international collaboration.
3. Enhance sustainable small-scale farming in developing
countries, particularly sub-Saharan Africa, by encouraging
agricultural practices that are beneficial to the environment and
food production such as integrated farming, agroforestry and
conservation agriculture.
4. Promote sustainable farming that limits the use of agro-
chemicals and avoids fragmentation of habitats for important
species such as pollinators. Regulate and prohibit pesticides
that may threaten pollinators, particularly honey bees that
are responsible for the pollination of one-third of food crop
production. Improve food storage and preservation capacity and
farmers’ access to markets, particularly in developing countries.
5. Prevent overfishing and illegal discards of fish by
strengthening national enforcement of fishing regulations
and increasing international collaboration to curb illegal,
unreported and unregulated fishing practices.
6. Reduce the amount of food that is wasted at the retail
and consumer levels by at least half of the current level of
40 per cent and explore safe ways to utilize food that is not fit
for human consumption for animal feed or other uses.
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Introduction
Ensuring food security for a growing global population is not only about producing more food, but
also about reducing the enormous amount of food that is either lost or wasted. Globally, one-third
of all food produced is either lost or wasted. Ecosystem degradation is yet another form of food
loss as it inhibits the ability of food producing ecosystems to provide optimal yields. Ecosystem
degradation may alone account for the loss of food supply for up to 2.4 billion people by 2050.
Salinization and soil erosion are already blamed for grain yield reductions that could have provided
the annual calorie needs of 38 million people. The long-term solution for the increasing demand
for food for a growing population lies in optimum food production through sustainable ecosystem-
based management practices and in strategies to reduce food waste and losses.
Ecosystems and food provisioning
Ecosystems and the services they provide are the building
blocks of human food supply. Ecosystems can be described as
a dynamic network of plants, animals and microorganisms that
interact with and depend on each other. Humans are a part of that
system and depend on its many functions and benefits, which
are commonly referred to as ‘ecosystem services’. Ecosystem
services can be grouped into four major categories: provisioning
services such as food, water and medicines; regulating services
such as soil erosion and flood control, carbon sequestration in
forests and coastal protection; supporting services, such as
water cycling and nutrient dispersal and cycling; and, cultural
services, which refer to the spiritual, recreational and cultural
benefits received from nature (MA 2005).
Ecosystems such as forests, agricultural land, pastures, freshwater
and marine systems have a direct link to food provisioning because
this is where people farm, pick, hunt or fish for food. Animals,
insects, roots, fruits, mushrooms, vegetables and berries, which
are found in forests, provide the main livelihood for an estimated
60 million indigenous people (FAO 2012a), while an additional
410 million people derive subsistence and income from forests
(UNEP 2011a). Agricultural ecosystems, which cover an estimated
40 per cent of the world’s land surface (Power 2010), provide
the basis for subsistence and commercial crop and livestock
production. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization
of the United Nations (FAO) about 3 billion people in the world
live in rural areas, where around 2.5 billion depend on agriculture
for their livelihoods (FAO 2013a). Almost 45 million people derive
their livelihoods directly from captured fisheries and aquaculture,
supplying the world market with 148 million tonnes of fish and
seafood every year, an amount that is enough to meet 15 per cent of
the annual animal protein needs of 4.3 billion people (FAO 2012b).
Besides agricultural, forest and aquatic ecosystems, the
main systems that provide food, there are other ecosystems
that are important for food provisioning. These include,
amongst others, mountains and mangroves. Mountains are
the source or catchment areas of the majority of the world’s
great rivers, which supply freshwater for more than half of
the world’s population (UNEP-WCMC 2002; Price 1998). This
freshwater is essential for downstream agro-ecosystems and
forests, as well for the generation of energy needed in food
production processes. Mountain water is particularly critical
Food loss due to environmental degradation – Potential
or absolute decrease in food production caused by
environmental degradation. Such losses also refer to
food that will never be produced due to the degradation
of ecosystems.
Food loss – A decrease in mass or nutritional value of food
that was originally intended for human consumption.
These losses are mainly caused by ineciencies in
the food supply chain such as poor infrastructure and
logistics, lack of technology, insucient skills, knowledge
and management capacity of supply chain actors and lack
of access to markets. Natural disasters also cause food
loss. Food is lost during pre-harvest production, post-
harvest handling and storage and processing
Food waste – Food appropriate for human consumption,
which is discarded, whether or not after it has been
kept beyond its expiry date or left to spoil. Food waste
is often due to food having been spoilt, but it can also
be for other reasons such as oversupply or individual
consumer shopping/eating habits. Food waste occurs
at distribution and household consumption levels.
Defining food loss
12
232
Million tonnes
100
50
20
Food loss and waste by region
Dairy
products
Dairy
products
Roots
and tubers
Roots
and tubers
Fruits and
vegetables
Fruits and
vegetables
Total production
Production
Loss and waste
Oil crops
and pulses
Oil crops
and pulses
Cereals
Cereals
Fish
Fish
Meat
Meat
2 404
798
551
1 644
264
49
146
46
767
116
707
346
97
664
6 574
North America
and Oceania
North America
and Oceania
North America
and Oceania
North America
and Oceania
North America
and Oceania
North America
and Oceania
North America
and Oceania
North America
and Oceania
Europe
Europe
Europe
Europe
Industrialized
Asia
South and
Southern
Asia
South and
Southern
Asia
South and
Southern
Asia
South and
Southern
Asia
Latin
America
South and
Southern
Asia
South and
Southern
Asia
South and
Southern
Asia
Industrialized
Asia
Industrialized
Asia
Industrialized
Asia
Industrialized
Asia
Industrialized
Asia
Industrialized
Asia
Industrialized
Asia
Europe
Europe
Europe
Europe
Sub-Saharan
Africa
Sub-Saharan
Africa
Sub-Saharan
Africa
Sub-Saharan
AfricaSub-Saharan
Africa
Sub-Saharan
Africa
Sub-Saharan
Africa
North Africa,
West and
Central Asia
North Africa,
West and
Central Asia
NorthAfrica,
West and
Central Asia
North Africa,
West and
Central Asia
North Africa,
West and
Central Asia
North Africa,
West and
Central Asia
North Africa,
West and
Central Asia
North Africa,
West and
Central Asia
Sub-Saharan
Africa
Source: FAO, Global Food Losses and Food Waste, 2011
Latin
America
Latin
America
Latin
America
Latin
America
Latin
America
Latin
America
Latin
America
Food loss and waste
a
a
a
a
a
a
a
a
a
a
at
t
e
e
e
e
me
f
f
f
f
Af
Af
Af
f
Per capita food
loss and waste
Kilogrammes per year
Total food production volume
and food loss and waste
Million tonnes
0
50
100
150
200
250
300
350
Production to retail
Consumption
13
232
Million tonnes
100
50
20
Food loss and waste by region
Dairy
products
Dairy
products
Roots
and tubers
Roots
and tubers
Fruits and
vegetables
Fruits and
vegetables
Total production
Production
Loss and waste
Oil crops
and pulses
Oil crops
and pulses
Cereals
Cereals
Fish
Fish
Meat
Meat
2 404
798
551
1 644
264
49
146
46
767
116
707
346
97
664
6 574
North America
and Oceania
North America
and Oceania
North America
and Oceania
North America
and Oceania
North America
and Oceania
North America
and Oceania
North America
and Oceania
North America
and Oceania
Europe
Europe
Europe
Europe
Industrialized
Asia
South and
Southern
Asia
South and
Southern
Asia
South and
Southern
Asia
South and
Southern
Asia
Latin
America
South and
Southern
Asia
South and
Southern
Asia
South and
Southern
Asia
Industrialized
Asia
Industrialized
Asia
Industrialized
Asia
Industrialized
Asia
Industrialized
Asia
Industrialized
Asia
Industrialized
Asia
Europe
Europe
Europe
Europe
Sub-Saharan
Africa
Sub-Saharan
Africa
Sub-Saharan
Africa
Sub-Saharan
AfricaSub-Saharan
Africa
Sub-Saharan
Africa
Sub-Saharan
Africa
North Africa,
West and
Central Asia
North Africa,
West and
Central Asia
NorthAfrica,
West and
Central Asia
North Africa,
West and
Central Asia
North Africa,
West and
Central Asia
North Africa,
West and
Central Asia
North Africa,
West and
Central Asia
North Africa,
West and
Central Asia
Sub-Saharan
Africa
Source: FAO, Global Food Losses and Food Waste, 2011
Latin
America
Latin
America
Latin
America
Latin
America
Latin
America
Latin
America
Latin
America
Food loss and waste
a
a
a
a
a
a
a
a
a
a
a
at
t
e
e
e
e
me
f
f
f
f
Af
Af
Af
f
Per capita food
loss and waste
Kilogrammes per year
Total food production volume
and food loss and waste
Million tonnes
0
50
100
150
200
250
300
350
Production to retail
Consumption
14
in arid and semi-arid areas, supplying over 90 per cent of
their river flows (Price 1998). With an annual economic value
of at least US$1.6 billion (Costanza et al. 1997), mangroves
are important ecosystems that provide protection from
storms, flooding and soil erosion; cycle nutrients; improve
water quality; and provide a nursery ground for juvenile fish.
For coastal communities, mangroves are used for shelter,
securing food and fuel wood as well as a site for agricultural
production (MA 2005).
Broadening the concept of food loss and waste
Food loss and waste have gained increasing attention over the
past years. Through campaigns such as Think.Eat.Save. food
loss and waste have been identified as an urgent global issue
with negative humanitarian, financial as well as environmental
implications. Food losses are mainly unintentional and are
caused by limitations in agricultural processes, infrastructure,
storage and packaging that cause a reduction in quality
to the extent that the food becomes unsuitable for human
consumption (FAO 2013b). Food waste refers to good quality
food that is discarded at the retail and consumer stage of the
supply chain (Gustavsson et al. 2011a).
Another significant form of food loss that is addressed in this
report comes from the lost opportunities for food production due
to the degradation of ecosystems. When vital ecosystems for food
production are degraded, the ability of these ecosystems to produce
or support food production decreases. The solutions to ensure
global food security for a growing population lie in reducing food
loss and waste, as well as reducing food loss due to environmental
degradation by implementing sustainable management practices
that protect and restore degraded ecosystems.
Food loss due to ecosystem degradation
Ecosystems across the world are being degraded at an
unprecedented rate. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment
(MA), which assessed the state of the world ecosystems in
2001–2004, found that 60 per cent of the ecosystems examined
were either degraded or being used unsustainably (MA 2005).
This degradation of ecosystems means a potential loss of
food for human consumption, through reduced yields from
agro-ecosystems, forests and fisheries. As much as 2 billion
hectares of agricultural land, permanent pastures and forest
and woodland have been degraded since 1945, mainly due to
deforestation (Pinstrup-Andersen and Pandya-Lorch 1998).
Potential agricultural yield is being lost due to degradation
of soil, freshwater and other ecosystem services essential for
food provisioning. An estimated 10 million hectares of cropland
is lost annually due to soil erosion (Pimentel 2006). This is
equivalent to a loss of 5 million tonnes of grain in potential yield
(Döös 1994), enough to meet the annual food calorie needs of
23.8 million people.
Bee colonies and other pollinators, vital for food production, are
declining across the world. While honeybee colonies have been
reduced by 54 per cent in the United Kingdom since 1986, the
United States have seen a reduction of between 30 and 40 per cent
since 2005 (Tirado et al. 2013). The widespread use of agrochemicals
such as pesticides, as well as pathogens, the fragmentation of
habitats, and climate change are blamed for the rapid decline
in the populations of bees and other pollinators (Farooqui
2013; Pettis et al. 2013; Grunewald 2010). About 35 per cent
of global crop production (Nicholls and Miguel 2013) or 84 per cent
of all crop species cultivated for human consumption in Europe
depend on pollinators (Grunewald 2010). In the context of a
growing food demand, the loss of these pollinators is likely to
have dramatic consequences on crop yields (Tirado et al. 2013).
Forests currently cover about one-third of the world’s land area
(FAO 2012a), but rapid deforestation is still threatening the
forests with an annual deforestation rate of 13 million hectares
between 2000 and 2010 (FAO 2010a). The loss of forests has
severe consequences for the food supply and livelihoods for
over 410 million people (UNEP 2011a), including 60 million
indigenous people who are directly dependent on forests for
their survival (FAO 2012a). Forests provide food items such as
fruits, mushrooms, nuts, honey, wild meat and insects (FAO
2011a). Just as important are the ecosystem services provided
by forests that are fundamental to other food provisioning
ecosystems. These include filtering, storing and regulating
water flows (Power 2010), preventing soil erosion, increasing
1. Estimates of additional people to be fed are based on findings from
Döös (1994), average calories from cereals, as well as average daily
calorie needs for people.
15
About 200 000 to 230 000 people are added to the world
food demand daily, and the UN estimates that by 2050 the
world population will reach 9.6 billion (UN DESA 2013).
Developing countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, will
contribute much of this population growth. For example,
Nigeria’s population is expected to increase from the
current 163 million to a staggering 440 million people by
2050, and will remain the most populous country on the
African continent. By 2050, Nigeria’s population will have
surpassed that of the United States of America – the third
largest country in the world in terms of population today.
Population growth will continue in Asia, and by 2050, India
will have the most citizens of any country in the world with a
projected population of 1.6 billion (UN DESA 2013).
Population increases will place additional pressures on
already limited natural resources and food security will
remain a big challenge. Even today, when the world is
producing enough food to feed its 7 billion citizens, about
805 million people are classified as undernourished (FAO
et al. 2014). If global food security needs are to be met
in 2050, FAO (2013a) estimates that global agricultural
production must increase by 60 per cent. In developing
countries food availability will need to be doubled
(Alexandratos and Bruinsma 2012). Against the background
of growing food demand, Nellemann et al. (2009)
warn that one-quarter of the world’s food production may
be lost due to environmental degradation by 2050 unless
action is taken.
World agricultural and fish production growth is projected to
decline from an average 2.1 per cent per year between 2003
and 2012, to 1.5 per cent towards 2020. Meat production
growth, for example is estimated to decline from an annual
2.3 per cent to 1.6 per cent, while growth of wheat yields are
projected to decline from 1.5 per cent to 0.9 per cent (OECD
and FAO 2013). The slowing trend in food production growth
is mainly due to limitations in the available agricultural land,
increases in production costs, resource constraints and
increasing environmental pressures (OECD and FAO 2013).
Estimates suggest that productivity has declined on about
20 per cent of the global cropland between 1981 and 2003
(Bai et al. 2008) and that about 38 per cent of all agricultural
land is degraded (Oldeman 1992). Availability of arable land
will become even more important as there is practically
no more available suitable agricultural land in South Asia,
the Near East and North Africa. In regions where land is
available, including sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America,
more than 70 per cent of the land has poor soils or is on
terrain that is unsuitable for farming (Bioversity et al. 2012).
Growth in aquaculture, which many see as an alternative to
declining wild fish stocks, will continue to increase during
the next decade, reaching about 79 million tonnes per year
by 2021. However this growth will decrease over time due to
water constraints, limited availability of optimal production
locations and the rising costs of fishmeal, fish oil and other
feeds (FAO 2012b).
Feeding the 9.6 billion
16
soil productivity (Kang and Akinnifesi 2000), storing carbon as
well as providing habitats for wild pollinators (FAO 2011a).
The world’s fish stocks are also increasingly being overexploited.
In the mid-1970s, only 10 per cent of world fish stocks were
categorized as overexploited. Forty years later, about 30 per cent
of world fish stocks were defined as overexploited. Fully exploited
fish stocks have increased from 50 to 57 per cent from the 1970s
to 2009 (FAO 2012b). Overexploitation of fish stocks is not only
detrimental to individual species such as the North American cod,
tuna and shark species (FAO 2012b; Schmidt et al. 2013), but it also
means that fish stocks are unable to replenish themselves and will
not reach their full production potential. It has been estimated that
in 2000, an additional 17 per cent of fish catch in low-income food
deficit nations could have been harvested had the fish stocks been
sustainably managed (Srinivasan et al. 2010).
Ecosystem approaches to avert food loss
Through advances in technology conventional food production
has delivered increasing yields. However, these same advances
have also reduced the capacity of ecosystems to provide food
(FAO 2013a) as an overuse of fertilizers and other chemicals in
agriculture pollutes soil, water and air (FAO 2013a), and kills
insect pollinators vital for food production (Farooqui 2013;
Pettis et al. 2013). Improved fishing technologies have caused
fishing vessels to catch fish at unsustainable rates resulting
in depletion of fish stocks and extinction of some fish species
(WWF 2012). While the rate of increase in overall food production
is falling, the human population and the demand for food
continue to increase (OECD and FAO 2013). It is increasingly
being recognized that conventional food production systems
are undermining the ecosystem services that food production
depends on, and in order to ensure future food security it is
necessary to implement management approaches that are less
damaging to the environment (Munang et al. 2011).
Ecosystem approaches represent an alternative to conventional
food production. Ecosystem approaches are defined by the
Convention on Biological Diversity (1992) as “a strategy for the
integrated management of land, water and living resources that
promotes conservation and sustainable use in an equitable
way. It is based on the application of appropriate scientific
methodologies focused on levels of biological organization,
which encompass the essential processes, functions and
interactions among organisms and their environment. It
recognizes that humans, with their cultural diversity, are an
integral component of ecosystems.”
Through ecosystem approaches humanity will not only reduce
its footprint on the environment, but also improve the Earth’s
17
biocapacity. Ecosystem approaches are alternative approaches
to food production that aim not only to maintain but also to
improve the fertility and productivity of ecosystems. Such
sustainable food production approaches are implemented
to prevent soil erosion, improve soil fertility and enhance
biological diversity. Ecosystem approaches in agriculture often
include traditional practices such as conservation agriculture,
crop rotation, inter-cropping and biological control of pests. For
example, maize in rotation with soybean yields 5–20 per cent
more than continuous crops of maize monocultures. Soil
nitrogen levels have also been shown to increase by 6–14 kg/ha
following a rotation of peas and wheat (Bullock 1992;
Stevenson and van Kessel 1996). In forestry, sustainable
forest management is a move away from the traditional focus
of managing forests only for timber production, and towards
management of a range of forest ecosystem services, including
food production and wild food harvesting (MA 2005). Ecosystem
approaches to fisheries include approaches such as Integrated
Coastal Zone and Marine Protected Areas that all seek to ensure
sustainable management of marine resources, including fish
stocks to reduce overexploitation (UNEP 2011b).
Food loss and food waste
Much of the data on food loss do not include potential losses
due to ecosystem degradation. About one-third, equivalent
to 1.3 billion tonnes, of all edible parts of food produced for
human consumption are either lost or wasted (FAO 2013b). This
is in addition to a far greater amount of non-food waste such as
straw. Estimates by Smil (2001) as cited by Stuart (2009) show
that as much as 4 600 kcal of agricultural food is harvested
per day for every person on the planet, but around 2 000 kcal
on average are consumed, implying that more than half of
agricultural food products are lost or wasted along the food
production and distribution chain.
There is a clear variation between developing and developed
countries with regards to food loss and waste. In developing
countries, food loss is the greatest problem. It is estimated that
over 75 per cent of the food loss and waste occur in developing
countries before the food reaches the retailer, compared to
57 per cent in developed countries (Gustavsson et al. 2011b,c).
This is typically due to poor capacity in developing countries to
store, process and transport food as well as lack of access to
markets (Moomaw et al. 2012). In sub-Saharan Africa alone, grain
enough to feed 48 million people is lost every year (FAO 2012c).
In developed countries, food waste at the retail and household
levels is the biggest problem. As much as 43 per cent of all loss and
waste occur at this stage, compared to 25 per cent in developing
countries (Gustavsson et al. 2011b,c). Food waste by consumers
Population growth
Billions
Global yield production trend and projections
Tonnes per hectare
Source: UN Population Division, from van der Mensbrugghe et al. 2009 Source: Deepak, K. R., Yield Trends Are Insucient to Double Global Crop
Production by 2050, PLoS ONE, 2013
Developed
Developing
Least developed
World
Maize
Rice
Wheat
Soybean
10
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
0
1950
1960
1970
1980
1990
2000
2010
2020
2030
2040
2050
1960
1970
1980
1990
2000
2010
2020
2030
2040
2050
Production trend and forecast
Increase required to
meet future agriculture
demand
Will there be enough food for 9.6 billion people?
18
in developed countries equals the entire food production of sub-
Saharan Africa (FAO 2014a). On average, 20 to 25 per cent of food
that is bought in developed countries is wasted by consumers
(Juul 2013), while in the United States, food loss and waste are
estimated to be as high as 50 per cent (Stuart 2009).
Food loss and waste are not only a threat to food security,
but also have significant economic costs. Globally, the direct
economic cost of food loss and waste is estimated at between
US$750 billion (FAO 2013b) and US$980 billion annually
(Gustavsson et al. 2011b,c). The economic cost is highest in
developed countries, representing over 65 per cent of the
global cost (Gustavsson et al. 2011b,c).
Food loss and waste are not only about lost calories for human
consumption, but also about the negative environmental
impacts and degradation of ecosystems that production of food
causes throughout the food supply chain. For example, it takes
over 1 600 litres of water to produce 1 kilogramme of wheat
bread (Mekonnen and Hoekstra 2010), or 5 060 litres of water
to produce 1 kilogramme of cheese (Mekonnen and Hoekstra
2012). The same amount of water is wasted if the food is never
consumed. In total it is estimated that about 28 million tonnes
of fertilizers are used annually to produce the food that is lost
and wasted (Lipinski et al. 2013), while causing the threat of
eutrophication of nearby water ecosystems. A projected 5 to
25 per cent of the world’s food production capacity may be lost
by 2050 due to climate change, land degradation, cropland
losses, water scarcity and species infestations (Nellemann et
al. 2009), which is equal to the food supply of an estimated
0.4–2.4 billion people by 2050. According to the FAO (2013b),
1.4 billion hectares of land are used to produce the amount of
food that is lost and wasted. The land area used to produce lost
and wasted food is more than 100 times the 13 million hectares
of forests that are being cleared every year (FAO 2010a), 80
per cent of which is for agricultural expansion (Kissinger et
al. 2012). Developing countries account for about two-thirds
of all land used to produce food that is lost or wasted. On the
contrary they account for less than half of all food loss and
waste. The large share of land is to a great extent explained
by the countries’ reliance on grassland for feeding animals.
For example, in North Africa, Western Asia and Central Asia,
grasslands have low productivity, which increases the area
needed for grazing. Combined, food loss and waste occupy over
360 million hectares of land in these regions (FAO 2013b).
Food loss and waste are closely linked to climate change in
that petroleum fuels are heavily used in nearly all aspects of
food production. One estimate suggests that food loss and
waste have an annual carbon footprint of 3.3 giga-tonnes
of carbon dioxide (FAO 2013b). In the United States, about
300 million barrels of oil are used annually to produce food
that is lost or wasted. In addition, when food decomposes it
produces emissions of methane gas, which is 25 times more
potent than carbon dioxide in trapping heat, thus making food
waste a significant contributor to climate change (FAO 2012c). It
is a paradox that lost and wasted food threatens the production
of new food by contributing to climate change. According to
the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC 2014:18)
“all aspects of food security are potentially aected by climate
change, including food access, utilization, and price stability”.
While estimated impacts dier between regions, some projects
suggest yield losses of more than 25 per cent for the period
2030 to 2049 compared to the late 20th century (IPCC 2014).
19
Ecological Footprints tell the extent to which people use what the
biosphere provides. The Footprint methodology can therefore
also measure the environmental demands of food production
and show to what extent food production contributes to the
overall demand of people on the biosphere.
Ecological Footprint accounting quantifies both the annual
availability of biocapacity and human demand on that capacity
(Wackernagel et al. 2002; Borucke et al. 2013). Demand on
ecosystems is mapped onto land uses, which are divided into six
Footprint components, or area types: cropland for food and fiber
production, including feed for animals; grazing land for livestock
production; forest land for both timber and other forest products;
forest land for the carbon Footprint to sequester the carbon
dioxide from fossil fuel burning; built-up land for housing and
infrastructure; and fishing grounds for fish products (marine and
inland). Two demand categories are provided for by one biocapacity
category: forest products and the carbon Footprint both compete
for forestland. Hence only five categories make up biocapacity.
Results are expressed in a globally comparable, standardized
unit called the global hectare (gha). A global hectare is a
biologically productive hectare with world average productivity
in a given year (Galli et al. 2007; Monfreda et al. 2004). Average
bio-productivity diers between land use types, as well as
between countries. For any given land use, the global hectare
is normalized to take this into account. For example, a global
hectare of high-yielding cropland would occupy a smaller
physical area than an area of pastureland with less biologically
productivity, as more pasture area is needed to provide the
same productivity as one hectare of cropland.
With this metric, one can assess human demand on nature,
and guide personal and collective action in support of a world
where humanity lives within the Earth’s bounds. According
to Global Footprint Network estimates, humanity demanded
resources and services equivalent to the capacity of 1.5 Earths
in 2008. Since 1961, the total Footprint has increased by 150
per cent (being now 2.5 times larger). In the meantime, with
changing management practice and increased agricultural
inputs, biocapacity expanded globally by 20 per cent (Global
Footprint Network 2013, Borucke et al. 2013).
When total demand for ecological goods and services exceeds
the available capacity of a given location to meet this demand,
the situation is referred to as overshoot. Global overshoot is
Ecological Footprint accounting for food production
Global hectares per capitaPlanets needed to sustain footprint
0 0
0.5
1.0
1.5
2.0
2.5
3.0
3.5
0.5
1.0
1.5
2.0
2.5
3.0
Source: The Global Footprint Network, 2013
1950
1960
1970
1980
1990
2000
2010
2020
2030
2040
2050
1950
1960
1970
1980
1990
2000
2010
2020
2030
2040
2050
Stretching the ecosystems beyond their limits
Biocapacity
decit
Footprint
Footprint
Business as
usual
Rapid
reduction
Biocapacity
20
possible, for a limited time, by depleting stocks of ecological
capital (harvesting resources faster than they are regenerated)
and/or by exceeding the sink capacity of the biosphere, resulting
in the accumulation of waste in the atmosphere, oceans and
soil. Overall projections of future human demand on the Earth’s
biocapacity, based on aggregating moderate UN scenarios of
population growth, food demand and energy use, conclude that by
2050 humanity’s Ecological Footprint would be 2.5 to three times
the planet’s biocapacity. It is unclear whether such overuse can be
physically achieved, and if it can, how long this level of overshoot
can persist (FAO 2002; FAO 2006; UN DESA 2006, WWF et al. 2008).
In addition to analyzing the Ecological Footprint by the type of
productive area on which demand is being placed, Footprints
can also be determined for consumption categories, such as
food. The “foodprint” includes all the biocapacity required not
only to grow food such as crops, livestock and fish, but also
to absorb the emissions from the fossil fuel used to create
fertilizer, run farm machinery, process, transport and store food.
The demand for food is amongst the greatest drivers of land use
change (Lambin and Meyfroidt 2010). Land use change also
adds to humanity’s Footprint through the release of additional
carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
The average “foodprint” today is at least 0.66 global hectares
per person, which corresponds to more than one-third of
the Earth’s biocapacity, or about one-fourth of humanity’s
Ecological Footprint (calculations based on Global Footprint
Network, 2013). Cropland represents the largest portion of the
global foodprint (nearly two thirds), while fish consumption
makes up about 10 per cent of the overall biocapacity demand
of food.
Food consumption varies in both amount and composition in
dierent parts of the world. Germans, for example, consume
about 3 539 kcal/person/day, with 30 per cent coming from
meat and dairy (FAO 2014b). Their “foodprint” of a little over
one global hectare per person constitutes 20 per cent of their
total Footprint measuring five global hectares per capita. In
contrast, lower-income countries typically have smaller per
capita Footprints, but a larger percentage devoted to food.
Bangladesh, for example, with a food consumption of 2 430
kcal/person/day and only 4 per cent coming from meat and
dairy (FAO 2014b), has a “foodprint” of 0.3 global hectares per
capita, which is nearly half of its total Footprint of 0.65 global
hectares per capita (calculations based on Global Footprint
Network 2013).
Footprint and population are growing faster than the Earth’s biocapacity
Baseline
50
0
-50
100
150
Growth rate percentage
World
population
World
biocapacity
1961 1970 19751965 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 2009
World ecological
footprint
Source: Global Footprint Network, 2013
21
0.0 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0 2.5 3.0 3.5
Global hectares per capita
Per capita food footprint by land type
Land types
Cropland
Country surveyed
Source: The Global Footprint Network
Land types needed for food production
Grazing land
Forest
Fishing ground
Built-up land
Carbon
Portugal
Netherlands
Malta
Cyprus
Spain
Finland
Bolivia
France
Sweden
Ireland
Italy
Poland
Japan
Germany
Brazil
Singapore
Malaysia
Canada
Myanmar
Paraguay
Croatia
USA
Switzerland
Russian Federation
Romania
Senegal
Turkey
Morocco
Armenia
Colombia
Uganda
Iran
Peru
Tunisia
Albania
Costa Rica
Ecuador
Madagascar
Viet Nam
Argentina
Chile
Georgia
China
Philippines
South Africa
Sri Lanka
Guatemala
Nicaragua
Indonesia
Ethiopia
Cambodia
India
Zambia
Bangladesh
Pakistan
Mozambique
22
How food is lost and wasted
Agriculture
Post harvest, processing and distribution
Consumption
Processing
Percentage of
food lost and
wasted
Source: FAO, Global Food Losses and Food Waste, 2011
North America
and Oceania
Europe
South and
Southern
Asia
Industrialized
Asia
Sub-Saharan
Africa
North Africa,
West and
Central Asia
Latin
America
North America
and Oceania
Europe
South and
Southern
Asia
Industrialized
Asia
Sub-Saharan
Africa
North Africa,
West and
Central Asia
Latin
America
North America
and Oceania
Europe
South and
Southern
Asia
Industrialized
Asia
Sub-Saharan
Africa
North Africa,
West and
Central Asia
Latin
America
North America
and Oceania
Europe
South and
Southern
Asia
Industrialized
Asia
Sub-Saharan
Africa
North Africa,
West and
Central Asia
Latin
America
FRUITS AND
VEGETABLES
CEREALS
FISH
MEAT
Processing and
packaging
Consumption
Post harvesting
and storage
Agriculture
production
Distribution
Food left after
loss and waste
Food left after
loss and waste
One third
of the food produced in the world for human
consumption every year gets
lost or wasted
23
How food is lost and wasted
Agriculture
Post harvest, processing and distribution
Consumption
Processing
Percentage of
food lost and
wasted
Source: FAO, Global Food Losses and Food Waste, 2011
North America
and Oceania
Europe
South and
Southern
Asia
Industrialized
Asia
Sub-Saharan
Africa
North Africa,
West and
Central Asia
Latin
America
North America
and Oceania
Europe
South and
Southern
Asia
Industrialized
Asia
Sub-Saharan
Africa
North Africa,
West and
Central Asia
Latin
America
North America
and Oceania
Europe
South and
Southern
Asia
Industrialized
Asia
Sub-Saharan
Africa
North Africa,
West and
Central Asia
Latin
America
North America
and Oceania
Europe
South and
Southern
Asia
Industrialized
Asia
Sub-Saharan
Africa
North Africa,
West and
Central Asia
Latin
America
FRUITS AND
VEGETABLES
CEREALS
FISH
MEAT
Processing and
packaging
Consumption
Post harvesting
and storage
Agriculture
production
Distribution
Food left after
loss and waste
Food left after
loss and waste
One third
of the food produced in the world for human
consumption every year gets
lost or wasted
24
25
Ecosystem restoration for food security
It is estimated that another 130 million hectares of cropland will be needed to support food
production in developing countries. This amount represents less than a quarter of the 560 million
hectares of degraded agricultural land that could be restored through sustainable practices and
green investments. Restoring a quarter of the degraded agricultural land could theoretically boost
food production on that land and feed about 740 million people. By recovering depleted fish stocks
the resultant increase in fish catch could cover the annual protein needs of over 90 million people.
In addition, shifting the usage of crops produced for animal feed and other uses towards direct
human food consumption would not only decrease the pressure on limited cropland, but increase
available food calories by as much as 70 per cent – enough to feed 4 billion people.
Restoring agro-ecosystems for food security
Food security is not simply a function of production or supply,
but of availability, accessibility, stability of supply, aordability,
quality and safety of food. Hence, improving food security must
focus on threats to local food security where it is needed and
not simply increasing global harvests alone. Current projections
suggest that an additional 130 million hectares of cropland will
be required to support the growth in food production needed in
developing countries by 2050 (Alexandratos and Bruinsma 2012).
At the same time there are great potentials in restoring degraded
land. Globally there are over 560 million hectares of degraded
agricultural land (Oldeman 1992) that could be restored through
sustainable agricultural practices and green investments.
Land degradation refers to long-term losses in ecosystem
function and productivity from which land cannot recover
without assistance. When agricultural land is degraded, the
ability of that land to produce food may decrease up to the level
where it is no longer feasible to farm the land (Bai et al. 2008).
Land degradation is therefore a direct threat to food security.
Soil erosion remains one of the key challenges to land
degradation with over 80 per cent of the global agricultural land
suering from moderate to severe erosion. Every year, about 10
million hectares of agricultural land is abandoned due to soil
erosion (Pimentel and Burgess 2013). Throughout the world it is
estimated that 75 billion tonnes of soil are lost every year due
to degradation (Lal 1998).
The majority of land degradation takes place in the geographic
areas where local food insecurity is rampant. According to den
Biggelaar et al. (2003) losses of land due to soil erosion are 2
to 6 times higher in Africa, Latin America and Asia than in North
America and Europe. For example, in China about 40 per cent of
arable land suers from soil degradation (Hartemink et al. 2007),
where as many as 450 million rural people depend on land that
is degraded (Bai and Dent 2007a). In South Asia, the annual
economic loss due to land degradation is at least US$10 billion
(FAO 1994).
Africa is perhaps the continent most severely impacted by land
degradation. Yield reductions in Africa due to soil erosion range
from 2 to 40 per cent (Lal 1995). Sub-Saharan Africa is particularly
impacted by land degradation (Bai et al. 2008). About 95 million
hectares of land in the region is threatened with irreversible
degradation (Henao and Baanante 2006). At the same time, Africa
has the highest prevalence of hunger in the world, with almost a
quarter of the population aected (FAO et al. 2014). It is further
projected that by 2050 the region’s population will have doubled,
reaching over 2 billion people (UN DESA 2013). Country studies
reveal that the productivity of Africa’s land is decreasing, with
crop varieties failing to reach their full genetic potential. Between
1981 and 2003, productivity declined on 40 per cent of Kenya’s
cropland due to land degradation. During the same period the
country’s population doubled (Bai and Dent 2006). Similar trends
were observed in South Africa where over the same period the
productivity declined on 41 per cent of the country’s cropland while
the population increased by 50 per cent (Bai and Dent 2007b).
In order to increase food security for a growing global population,
it is crucial that sustainable agricultural practices that prevent
land degradation and restore degraded land are implemented
(Power et al. 2012, Winterbottom et al. 2013). Restoring
agricultural systems can provide major improvements, such
as has been demonstrated in Niger. Drought was strongly
hitting Niger during the 1970s and 1980s, but in the early 1980s
rehabilitation took place across 300 000 hectares of crusted and
barren land. The land was rehabilitated by promoting simple soil
and water conservation techniques such as contour stone bunds,
half moons, stone bunding and improved traditional planting pits
(zaı ). As a result, both crop yields and tree cover increased. The
expansion of the rehabilitated area continued without further
26
Sub-Saharan Africa faces some of the greatest population
increases and food insecurity in the world. The region has
the highest prevalence of famine in the world, and by 2050
it is projected that the population in sub-Saharan Africa will
more than double, reaching over 2 billion people. The region
also has some of the highest losses of crop and rangelands
Ecological Footprint accounting for food production
27
due to degradation, along with the highest levels of illegal
fisheries in the world of up to 40 per cent of total fish catches
when foreign industrial fishing fleets are included. Restoring
degraded lands by conserving water and implementing tree
planting and organic farming systems, along with reducing
illegal fisheries and unsustainable harvest levels by foreign
fishing fleets, would have major eects on food security. It
would also improve food security where it is needed most,
while sustaining a green economy, local livelihoods and
market development.
28
development assistance and a land market was developed, which
suggested a positive learning process and a green economy-
thinking that became self-driven (Charles et al. 2010).
Another study of 286 agricultural sustainability projects in
developing countries, involving 12.6 million smallholder
farmers on 37 million hectares, found an average yield increase
of 79 per cent across a very wide variety of systems and crop
types while at the same time increasing the supply of ecosystem
services (Pretty et al. 2006). The farmers used a variety of
resource-conserving technologies and practices including
integrated pest management, integrated nutrient management,
conservation tillage, agroforestry, aquaculture in farm systems
and water harvesting, as well as livestock integration.
A conservative estimate suggest that if a quarter of the 560 million
hectares of degraded agricultural land (Oldeman 1992) were
restored, the food calorie increase could feed up to 740 million
people.
While the actual numbers may be lower, as production
potential varies, these rough estimates suggest a highly and vastly
unexplored opportunity for boosting food availability locally,
especially as regions with wide prevalence of food insecurity are
also often characterized by extensive land degradation.
Another initiative that would reduce the pressure on global
cropland, as well as free up food is to shift crop production
towards primarily producing food for human consumption. Today
30 to 40 per cent of all cereals produced are used for animal feed,
and it is anticipated that by 2050 as much as 50 per cent may be
needed (Nellemann et al. 2009). According to Cassidy et al. (2013),
shifting the production of crops for animal feed and biofuels
towards crops for direct human consumption could theoretically
increase available food calories by as much as 70 per cent, which
could feed an additional 4 billion people. Food waste represents
one alternative that to some extent can replace crop-based
animal feed (FAO 2013c). While it is still a much debated topic
on the industrial level there are examples of countries where it is
practiced. In Japan for example, the so called Food Recycling Law
of 2007 encourages food-related businesses to convert all food
waste to animal feed or fertilizers (FAO 2013c). Identifying safe
ways to capture and convert food waste to animal feed provides
great opportunities for improving future food supplies as well as
minimizing the global environmental footprint.
Restoring forest for food security
Ensuring that forest ecosystems are preserved and restored
while simultaneously producing enough food for a growing
population is a key challenge to sustainability (Lambin and
Meyfroidt 2010). Historically, forests have to a great extent
been cleared to increase food production. According to
Kissinger et al. (2010) agriculture is the key driver to as much as
80 per cent of deforestation. While recent findings reveal that
2. The estimate is based on a modest production of 1.925 tonnes of cereal
per hectare, equivalent to 50 per cent of the current global average (FAO
2014c), a calorie value of 3 million kcal per tonne, a daily calorie need of
3000 kcal and 365 days a year.
29
deforestation is decreasing, the annual deforestation rates are
still high (FAO 2010a). Between 2000 and 2010 as much as 13
million hectares of forest were cleared every year. While clearing
land for agriculture provides a quick solution for increased food
production, it also threatens environmental sustainability as
well as future food security.
Forests play an essential role in food security, both indirectly
and directly. Across the world, forest ecosystems provide
supporting and regulating ecosystem services that agro-
ecosystems depend on if they are to remain productive.
Forest ecosystems provide fundamental ecosystem services
to agro-ecosystems such as water filtration and regulation,
habitat for wild pollinators and soil erosion control, as well as
nutrient cycling that enhances agricultural productivity. Just
as important, forests mitigate climate change by sequestering
carbon (Minnemeyer et al. 2011).
Forest ecosystems provide a vital source of food for millions of
people. As many as 410 million people are directly dependent
on forests for food (UNEP 2011a). This includes food items such
as nuts, fruits, mushrooms, wild animals, insects and honey.
Forests provide fodder for livestock, and the selling of forest
products is a common income generating activity in many
developing countries (FAO 2011a). Preserving forests from
further degradation as well as restoring forest landscapes is
therefore an important component to food security that policy
makers needs to take into account.
According to Minnemeyer et al. (2011), more than 2 billion
hectares of deforested and degraded forest land oer
opportunities for forest landscape restoration. Africa has by far
the greatest potential with 720 million hectares of restorable
forest landscapes, followed by South America and Asia with
about 450 million hectares each. Roughly three-quarters of
the total degraded land has moderate human pressure of
between 10 and 100 people per square kilometre and is best
suited for mosaic type restoration in which new trees support
other land uses such as agroforestry, smallholder agriculture
and settlements. These areas provide great opportunities for
restoring degraded forests while at the same time increasing
food production (Minnemeyer et al. 2011).
The positive role of new trees is not limited to the forest as
trees in drylands outside the forests can bring major benefits to
their often cash-poor inhabitants, as shown by examples from
Senegal and Ethiopia. In the Karine and Diourbel regions of
Senegal, a project by World Vision is regenerating indigenous
trees on 40 000 hectares of cropland. The farmers involved in the
project have adopted the Farmer-Managed Natural Regeneration
(FMNR) technique. FMNR utilizes pre-existing tree stumps or root
systems, thereby making it possible for poor people to restore
degraded land to productive farmland or forest without having to
invest in seedlings. According to World Vision (2013), the increase
in tree density on cropland from an average of 4 to 33 trees
per hectare has improved soil fertility, crop yields and wildlife,
while soil erosion has been reduced.
30
In Ethiopia, a similar project has restored 2 700 hectares of
barren mountain terrain. The need for firewood and agricultural
land had driven the local communities to overexploit the forest
on the mountainside, but through FMNR and planting of new
seedlings it is once again forested. The reported benefits
include increased food security and reduced poverty through
an increase in income from forest product and livestock fodder;
improved water infiltration, which has improved the ground
water levels as well as reduced flash flooding; and reduced
erosion and increased soil fertility in the region. The participants
also earn carbon credits through the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean
Development Mechanism (World Vision 2012).
Restoring aquatic-ecosystems for food security
Fish accounts for 17 per cent of the world’s animal protein
supply, and 6.5 per cent of all protein for human consumption
(FAO 2012b). From the 1950s to 1996 the world’s marine
fisheries increased from 16.8 million tonnes to 86.4 million
tonnes before declining and stabilizing at around 80 million
tonnes. In 2010 global fish production was 77.4 million tonnes
(FAO 2012b).
The drastic increases in captured fisheries from the 1950s was
a result of new and more eective fishing technologies that
allowed for fishing vessels to fish deeper and farther at sea.
The intensification of fisheries has however come at a cost.
Overexploited stocks have increased from 10 per cent in 1974
to about 30 per cent in 2009. These fish stocks are producing
lower yields than potentially possible and are in acute need of
restoration to regain their ecological and biological potential.
Further, over half of the global fish stocks were fully exploited in
2009. Fully exploited stocks produce catches close to or beyond
their maximum sustainable production. Most of the top ten
species, which account for about 30 per cent of world marine
capture, are either fully exploited or overexploited giving only
minor potential for increases in production (FAO 2012b).
The greatest declines in fish stocks in the past 40 years have
been in the Northwest, Northeast and Southeast Atlantic, which
combined, albeit in dierent periods, peaked at 19 million
tonnes and are now at around 12 million tonnes per year. At
the same time that fish stocks are decreasing, a substantial
increase in fisheries has happened in the Western and Eastern
Indian Ocean and Western central Pacific, mainly by Asian
fishing fleets, where harvests have increased from around a
total of 6.5 million tonnes to over 23 million tonnes, increasing
the pressure on the global fish stock and with high risk of
overexploitation (FAO 2012b).
A study conducted by Srinivasan et al. (2010) identified potential
catch losses due to unsustainable fishing practices in countries’
exclusive economic zones (EEZs) and on the high seas. According
to the study, the global fish catch could have been over
9.9 million tonnes higher in 2004 had overfishing been averted
since the 1950s. Rough estimates suggest that if the fish stocks
were restored to the 1950s level, the increase in fish catch could
cover the annual protein needs of over 90 million people.
However, new trends are also promising in fisheries
management. Rather than simply fishing more intensively to
increase catches, with overexploitation as the invariable result,
some nations have implemented sustainable management
practices. In Argentina, for example, high exploitation of the
shrimp, Pleoticus muelleri, from the 1980s caused a severe drop
in catch in the early 2000s. To help the species recover, national
authorities implemented management plans which proved so
successful that by 2011 the catches had rebounded tenfold,
reaching a new maximum recorded level of 80 thousand tonnes
(FAO 2012b). Restoring marine ecosystems thus has major
potential for improving long-term harvests.
Another crucial aspect of improving food security from marine
fisheries is prevention of illegal, unreported and unregulated
(IUU) fishing. Though dicult to estimate, experts suggest that the
annual illegal catch is between 11 and 26 million tonnes (Schmidt
et al. 2013). Developing countries are especially vulnerable to
illegal fisheries. Low salaries to fisheries administrators as well
as lack of priority and capacity to enforce national legislation are
some of the reasons for the high prevalence of illegal fisheries in
developing countries (Schmidt et al. 2013).
Sub-Saharan Africa faces some of the greatest
population increases and food insecurity in the world.
The region has the highest prevalence of famine in the
world, and by 2050 it is projected that the population
in sub-Saharan Africa will more than double, reaching
over 2 billion people. The region also has some of
the highest losses of crop and rangelands due to
degradation, along with the highest levels of illegal
fisheries in the world of up to 40 per cent of total
fish catches when foreign industrial fishing fleets are
included. Restoring degraded lands by conserving
water and implementing tree planting and organic
farming systems, along with reducing illegal fisheries
and unsustainable harvest levels by foreign fishing
fleets, would have major eects on food security. It
would also improve food security where it is needed
most, while sustaining a green economy, local
livelihoods and market development.
Keita project, Niger
3. Calculation is based on the findings from Srinivasan et al. (2010),
average protein in fish and average daily protein needs for people.
31
Restoring ecosystems could feed 740 million people
and cover the daily protein needs of additional 90 million people
High seas
Oceania
Europe
North
and Central
America
South
America
Asia
Africa
255
50
10
Million
Agricultural
land
Marine
sh stock
People that could get their
daily proteins (sh) and
calories (cereals) through
restoration of ecosystems,
by region
Source: Estimates based on Oldeman, L., R., Global Extent of Soil Degradation,
1991; Srinivasan, U., T., et al., Food security implications of global marine
catch losses due to overshing, 2010.
By restoring degraded agricultural
land, the world can meet the food
needs of more than a quarter of
the anticipated growth in
population
By 2050 the world population is
expected to increase by 2.6 billion
= 100 million people
32
Illegal fishing is particularly critical in West Africa where
the total estimated catch is 40 per cent higher than the
reported amount (Agnew et al. 2009), indicating high levels
of IUU. Due to already overexploited fish stocks in the region
(Schmidt et al. 2013) illegal fisheries place an additional stress
factor on food security in West Africa (Atta-Mills et al. 2004).
Fisheries, and especially small-scale fisheries, play a direct
as well as an indirect role to food security through nutrients
from fish as well as income (WorldFish Centre 2011). Africa has
the highest proportion of non-engine fishing vessels of about
60 per cent compared to 5–32 per cent in other regions of the
world (FAO 2012b). While being more sustainable, small-scale
fisheries are vulnerable as they have a lower fishing range,
lower capacity in terms of harvest eciency and lower buer
or alternative operational range if local areas are overexploited.
In Ghana and Senegal small-scale fishers are struggling with
decreasing fish stocks due to overexploitation forcing them to
travel further out at sea (Atta-Mills et al. 2004; Fessy 2014). Due
to low fish catches the small-scale fishers become easy targets
for recruitment into illegal fisheries (Fessy 2014).
As a result of rapid population growth it is expected that the
demand for fish will increase by 30 per cent by 2030 in sub-
Saharan Africa. At the same time, estimates suggest that
increases in fish capture in sub-Saharan Africa will be marginal,
rising from an average of 5.42 million tonnes in 2007–2009
to 5.47 million tonnes by 2030 (World Bank 2013). In order to
ensure that fisheries play an important role in food security in
Africa in the future, it is crucial that the local fishing industry
is protected, further degradation is prevented and restoration
of degraded ecosystems is prioritized. Given the high levels of
illegal fisheries, it is critical to support enforcement by tapping
into the expertise and experience of international enforcement
agencies and monitoring systems.
33
34
35
Food loss and waste in agro-ecosystems
Agriculture takes up 37.6 per cent of the world’s land area, producing food, forage, bio-energy and
pharmaceuticals. Against the backdrop of an increasing population, the food production capacity
of agro-ecosystems is under threat from climate change, land degradation and loss of biodiversity.
Soil erosion alone is blamed for losses in potential grain yield of as much as 5 million tonnes per
year, an amount that is enough to meet the annual food calorie needs of 24 million people. A
further 3 million tonnes of grain is lost through salinization of croplands, which could potentially
feed 14.3 million people over a year. The losses in potential food production from agriculture due
to environmental degradation are in addition to the 1.3 billion tonnes of food that are produced
but never consumed every year. About 1.4 billion hectares of land are used to produce food that
is either lost or wasted. At the same time the rates of increase in food production are falling, a
trend that shows the planet is reaching its full potential for food production through conventional
agricultural practices. A shift towards ecosystem approaches that can maintain or enhance
the quality of agro-ecosystems could reverse the trend and significantly increase overall food
production in a sustainable manner.
An estimated 37.6 per cent of the world’s total land area is used
for agriculture (FAO 2013a), and this ratio continues to expand.
Crop and grazing lands, the main agricultural ecosystems, are
a major source of food. In addition, agriculture also provides
forage, bioenergy and pharmaceuticals (Power 2010). As
much as 1.5 billion hectares, constituting 12 per cent of the
world’s land area, is used for arable and permanent crop
production. Considerable amounts of more land are suitable
for crop production, but these are covered in forests, used
for settlements or protected for environmental conservation
(FAO 2013a). According to the FAO (2009), agricultural systems
include agro-forestry, pastoralism, crop monocultures, grazing
systems, mixed cropping, paddy rice farms, perennial orchards,
shifting cultivation, small home gardens and plantations of oil
palm, coee, cacao and sugarcane.
Food production through agriculture depends on services
provided by natural ecosystems, including biological pest
control, hydrological services, maintenance of soil structure
and fertility, nutrient cycling and pollination (Power 2010).
At the same time, agriculture also produces ecosystem
services and disservices, depending on management
practices. Ecosystem services from agriculture include
carbon sequestration, disease control, regulation of soil and
water quality, cultural services and support for biodiversity,
while disservices include greenhouse gas emissions, loss
of wildlife habitat, nutrient runo, pesticide poisoning and
sedimentation of waterways (Power 2010). Since the food
provisioning role of agriculture is dependent on and has
impacts on other ecosystems, there is a clear connection
between agricultural ecosystems and other ecosystems such
as mountain, forest and freshwater.
Good management practices can reduce the negative
impacts of agriculture on ecosystems, while at the same time
maintaining or increasing food production (Power 2010). Food
provisioning can therefore be optimized through appropriate
management practices targeted at supporting and regulating
ecosystem services, as well by reducing ecosystem disservices
(Zhang et al. 2007).
Food production trends
As a result of population growth and changing consumption
patterns, the demand for food and production of food is
increasing. Cereals such as wheat, rice and maize provide
about two-thirds of all energy in human diets (Cassman 1999)
and are grown on about half of the world’s total harvested land
area (FAO 2013a).
The past 50 years have seen global crop production expand
threefold, with cereal production reaching 2.3 billion tonnes in
2012. Of this amount, about 1 billion tonnes was used for food
and 750 million tonnes for animal feed. About two-thirds of the
remaining food went to industrial processing or was used as
seed or wasted (FAO 2013a). While there are regional dierences,
world cereal production increased by an annual average of
2.2 per cent between 1995 and 2009 (FAO 2012d). In the 1990s
annual growth in production of cereals averaged 1 per cent,
36
having declined from 1.6 per cent in the 1980s and almost
3 per cent in the 1970s (FAO 2013a). The increase in cereal
production in the 1960s was driven by the Green Revolution, while
an economic recession, bad weather and low prices depressed
growth in cereal production in the 1990s and early 2000s (FAO
2013a). The increase in food production in recent decades has
resulted in a corresponding increase in per capita food supply,
which rose from 2 200 kcal/day in the early 1960s to about
2 800 kcal/day by 2009 with Europe having the highest supply
averaging 3 370 kcal/person/day (FAO 2013a). Annual increases
are projected to remain low in the next decade, averaging
1.4 per cent in cereal production to the year 2022, with 57 per cent
of this growth in developing countries (OECD and FAO 2013).
Besides cereals, other key dietary needs for people include
proteins, which are largely provided through meat and milk.
About 296 million tonnes of meat were produced across the
world in 2010 (FAO 2012d). The annual growth rate in cattle
production has declined gradually from about 2 per cent in the
1960s to less than 1 per cent in the 2000s. The annual growth rate
in pigmeat production fell from about 4 per cent 50 years ago to
0.8 per cent per year since 2000. However, the growth in poultry
production continues to be robust averaging 3 per cent per year
(FAO 2012d). Over 720 million tonnes of milk were produced in
2010. The average annual increase in milk production was about
2.2 per cent between 2000 and 2010 (FAO 2012d).
The 35 years leading up to the turn of the millennium saw
the doubling of agricultural food production driven by an
almost sevenfold increase in nitrogen fertilization, a 3.5-fold
increase in phosphorus fertilization, a 1.7-fold increase in the
amount of irrigated cropland and a 1.1-fold increase in land put
37
38
under cultivation (Tilman 1999). Wrong or excessive application of
chemical fertilizers may have negative eects on the environment
as well as human health (Godfray et al. 2010; FAO 2013a).
Ecologist David Tilman (1999) argues that the next doubling of
global food production would be driven by a threefold increase
in nitrogen and phosphorus fertilization rates, a doubling of
the irrigated land area and an 18 per cent increase in cropland.
The concern is that these inputs will further alter the diversity,
composition and functioning of the world’s natural ecosystems
significantly, and aect their ability to provide society with
essential ecosystem goods and services such as food. Based
on past trends in agricultural expansion, Tilman et al. (2001)
estimated that 1 000 million hectares of natural ecosystems
would need to be converted to agriculture by 2050, and this
together with increases in nitrogen- and phosphorus-driven
eutrophication of terrestrial, freshwater and near-shore marine
ecosystems, would cause dramatic ecosystem simplification and
significant loss of ecosystem services such as food production.
Food loss and waste in agricultural production
Food loss during agricultural production is caused by a variety
of factors including damage by pests, diseases and unfavorable
weather, poor handling and premature harvesting. Selective
harvesting, labour shortages, over-planting, natural drying,
spillage and spoilage during transportation also cause food
loss and waste. Market-based practices such as stringent
quality standards and processing requirements contribute to
food loss en route to consumers (Springer 2013).
In developing countries, losses in the agricultural production
and post-harvest stage are highest. Of the total amount of
food that is lost and wasted in sub-Saharan Africa, as much as
67 per cent is lost during the two first stages of the supply chain.
In South and South-East Asia the situation is similar, with just
over 60 per cent lost during production and post-harvesting,
closely followed by Latin America at about 62 per cent. High
losses in the early stages of the supply chain are mainly due
to inadequate financial and structural resources for proper
harvesting, storage and transportation, as well as unfavourable
climatic conditions for food preservation (FAO 2013b).
Two food categories – fruits and vegetables, and roots and
tubers – have the highest percentage of loss during agricultural
production and post-harvest, at about 22–26 per cent. These
are also the commodities that have the highest overall loss
and waste rates, both at approximately 45 per cent. About
30 per cent of all cereal production is lost or wasted, while
23 per cent of oilseeds and pulses, and meat, and 17 per cent of
dairy products are lost or wasted (FAO 2012c).
According to the FAO (2013b), 1.4 billion hectares of land, or
28 per cent of the world’s agricultural land area, is used every
Area cultivated and yield per hectare
Percentage
Source: World Bank Indicators, on line database, accessed on September 2013
1960 1970 1980 1990 2000
2009
Yield
Kilogrammes
per hectare
Area cultivated
hectares
Cereal production increase
50
100
150
200
39
year to produce food that is wasted. Food loss and waste are
therefore not only about lost calories for human consumption,
but also about the loss of resources put into growing food that
is never consumed as well as the degradation of the ecosystems
throughout the food supply chain. It takes between 5 000 to
20 000 litres of water to produce one kilogramme of meat. If
meat is never consumed, the water used to produce the meat
is wasted (Lundqvist et al. 2008).
Some agricultural practices threaten biodiversity, causing
land conversion processes such as deforestation. About
80 per cent of deforestation is due to agricultural expansion
(Kissinger et al. 2012). Estimates from the FAO (2013b)
suggest that 66 per cent of threats to species are due to
agriculture. Further, about 28 million tonnes of fertilizers
are used annually to produce food that is lost and wasted
(Lipinski et al. 2013), which may cause eutrophication of
nearby water ecosystems. On the larger scale, food loss and
waste are causing significant greenhouse gas emissions along
the food supply chain (FAO 2013b) and therefore become a
contributor to climate change. Food waste in landfill sites,
for example, produces methane gas, which is 25 times more
potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas (FAO 2012c).
Food loss thus degrades the vital base that food production
relies on, decreasing the ecosystem’s productivity and hence
its ability to produce high yields.
Further, degradation of ecosystems, through soil erosion,
salinization and chemical and biotic stresses is blamed for
losses in potential food yields. Soil erosion, which is the most
common form of land degradation, is responsible for an annual
loss of topsoil on about 10 million hectares of cropland globally,
a rate that is 10 to 40 times greater than the rate of soil renewal
(Pimentel 2006). Using conservative average yields of grain,
climatologist Bo R. Döös (1994) estimated that at least 5 million
tonnes in grain production could be lost every year due to the
loss of topsoil on 10 million hectares of agricultural land through
erosion. Such losses in potential food production are significant
given that humans get the majority of their food calories from the
land (Pimentel 2006). A rough estimate suggests that the losses
can cover the annual calorie needs of 24 million people.
Salinization, which results in the accumulation of salts in
the soil, is common on irrigated lands and results in the
abandonment of as much as 2 million hectares of land in
the world per year (FAO 1991). This loss of agricultural land
could result in food grain losses of 3 million tonnes per year
(Döös 1994) enough to feed 14.3 million people annually.
Salinization is a major problem in low-lying coastal areas
4 & 5. Estimates of additional people to be fed are based on findings
from Döös (1994), average calories from cereals, as well as average daily
calorie needs for people.
Latin America
and the
Caribbeans
Developed
countries
Asia
Sub-Saharan
Africa
Oceania
North Africa
Other
Sugars
Fats and oils
Animal-source foods
Fruits and vegetables
Pulses
Roots and tubers
Cereals
3 500
3 000
2 500
2 000
1 500
1 000
500
0
1992-1997
2007-2009
Contributions to total
dietary energy supplies
Kilocalories per day
Diet composition
Source: FAO, The State of Food Insecurity in the World, 2012
40
such as Bangladesh, Egypt and Vietnam (FAO 1991). Besides
salinization, acidification, the concentration of ground-level
ozone and the increase in intensity of ultra-violet radiation are
also blamed for causing chemical and biotic stresses to crops.
According to Brown (1990), about 4 million tonnes of grain are
lost per year due to chemical and biotic stresses.
Ecosystem degradation, such as groundwater pollution, soil
erosion, salinization and loss in biodiversity, is also blamed for
the failure of most farming systems to reach the potential ceiling
of most animal and crop varieties. Although the dierence
between farm yields for cereals and genetic yield potential
is closing (Peltonen-Sainio et al. 2008; Cassman 1999), the
majority of farmers produce cereal yields that are far below
genetic potential. Irrigated wheat, rice and maize produce as
much as 80 per cent of potential yield, while rain-fed agriculture
produces less than 50 per cent of potential yield (Lobell et al.
2009). While this suggests that there is room for greater yields,
it also points to losses in potential food production.
Declines in food production are also caused by the loss of
ecosystem services such as pollination, which is essential
to food crop production. Clara Nicholls et al. (2013) estimate
that 35 per cent of global crop production depends on animal
pollination. However, looking at mango production as a case, the
population of pollinators is declining due to cropland increases,
which isolate crop fields from insect and animal habitats
(Carvalheiro et al. 2012), as well as the use of insecticides
(Alaux et al. 2010; Gill et al. 2012). Pollinator-dependent
crops include alfalfa, sunflower, fruits and vegetables (Spivak
41
et al. 2010), which have an annual global value of about
US$35.6 billion (Lautenbach et al. 2012).
Ecosystem approaches to agriculture
The world cannot aord to lose or waste a lot of food, and
must acknowledge that technological solutions alone are
inadequate, and extreme agricultural expansion is not
possible. Sustainable agricultural practices must be adopted in
order to restore and protect the foundation upon which food
production is based. According to Iris Lewandowski et al. (1999),
sustainable agricultural approaches are ecologically sound in
that they maintain and enhance the quality of natural resources,
including preventing soil erosion, improving soil fertility and
enhancing biological diversity by causing as little disturbance
to natural habitats as possible. Sustainable farming approaches
are also economically viable in that farmers are able to produce
enough to ensure food security, as well as earn viable incomes.
Sustainable agricultural practices have been used traditionally,
and are therefore easily adopted in most rural communities. The
practices include crop rotation, inter-cropping, conservation
tillage, biological nitrogen fixation, biological control of
diseases and pests and integrated farming.
It has been demonstrated that crop rotation increases yields, as
well as allowing for sustained production. According to Bullock
(1992), maize in rotation with soybean yields 5–20 per cent more
than continuous crops of maize, due to improvements in the
soil’s physical properties and organic matter. Stevenson and van
Kessel (1996) made similar observations where nitrogen levels
increased by 6–14 kg/ha following a pea-wheat rotation. This
While the animal industry was originally based on converting
non-food materials such as pasture and kitchen waste into
animal feed, the modern animal industry is largely based
on converting low-cost food ingredients such as cereals and
legumes to produce high-value foods such as meat, milk
and eggs. The quality standards for these high-value foods
have risen to the extent that many of the traditional food
waste sources are no longer used to any large degree. Many
of the food wastes are being dismissed due to strict hygienic
standards, variable nutrient composition and challenges
in using these ingredients in the highly industrialized and
ecient animal production systems currently in use.
However, there is a great potential in an increased use of food
waste as animal feed. If the global 1.3 billion tonnes of edible
food waste (FAO 2013b) were used as animal feed, this could
save at least 260 million tonnes of animal feeds based on
food-grade ingredients such as cereals and legumes, under
the very moderate assumption that the value of food waste is
only one-fifth of that of animal feed due to a higher water and
fiber content (Westendorf et al. 1998).
An increased use of food waste as animal feed would
require development of systems that eectively collect and
treat food waste so that it could safely be used as animal
feed for cattle, pigs and poultry. This could be done by
providing specific containers to commercial kitchens and
even private households, combined with training of the
users in sorting the waste into food waste suitable for feed.
Also, adaptations would be required in the animal industry.
Feeding systems that blend food waste into feeds would
have to be implemented, as well as the way of feeding to
adapt to these kinds of perishable feeds. In addition, the
high growth rate and the streamlined production systems
now commonly used would have to be compromised to some
extent, allowing for a more variable and less concentrated
feed to be used in the animal feed. Such systems have been
proved to work eectively without large losses in eciency
or in food quality, including the use of food waste from
cafeterias in the feeding of pigs (Westendorf et al. 1998).
A change in legislation would also probably have to be
implemented since the use of food waste could increase
the risk of disease transmission between animals or the risk
of an impaired animal health due to poor storage or poor
quality of the ingredients. In short, increasing the use of food
waste as animal feed would require rethinking the balance
between food safety and food waste, or striking a balance
between food security and food safety. It can be argued
that an important factor driving the increased food waste
is increased food safety requirements, which result to food
being discarded in processing plants, grocery stores and
kitchens in far larger quantities than before. A classic example
is the ban on the use of meat and bone meal in Europe. While
meat and bone meal produced from slaughter residues was
previously used as a high-value protein ingredient in feed,
slaughter residues are now a costly waste problem for the
slaughter industry. The ban on the use of slaughter residues
was imposed as a result of concerns of the link between
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans and the use of ruminant
slaughter residues in ruminant feeds, which could result in
the spread of Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (Hueston
2013). Despite the lack of documented risk from using meat
and bone meal to other animal species like pigs and poultry,
the European authorities decided to ban the use of the
product throughout the animal food industry.
The potential of reutilizing food waste as animal feed
42
The Kaduma family in Njombe, southern Tanzania, is
building a new pen for their dairy cows. Their three
cows and two calves will soon move from their current
wooden home into a pen of brick and concrete. The pen
is of a quality many small-scale farmers cannot aord.
Mr. Kaduma explains, “Before we got the cows we were
poor farmers. Our cows have given us what we have today,
so we have to treat them as good as the rest of the family.”
The family practices integrated farming, an agricultural
practice that integrates livestock and crop production.
This practice has helped the family to increase milk
productivity, as well as improve crop and vegetable
yields. Integrated farming can be described as holistic
resource management where by-products from cattle
become inputs in crop farming. Farmers in 10 villages in
Njombe are participating in research projects undertaken
by the Sokoine University of Agriculture. Through the
projects the small-scale farmers are being trained on
how to create synergies between livestock and crop and
vegetable production.
The fields around the Kaduma homestead are planted
with crops such as Irish potatoes, plantain, maize and
beans. Some of these are inter-cropped. There is maximum
use of available space, with a “tower” vegetable garden
and a multi-purpose nursery and timber trees occupying
the homestead. Trees and grasses are used as boundaries
between dierent crops. They are used not only as a
wind-break and protection against soil erosion and water
runo, but also provide fodder for the cattle. The farmers
dry the hay and preserve the grass for cattle fodder in the
dry season.
Since the dairy cows have had access to quality fodder
throughout the year, milk yields have increased significantly
from 6 to 16 litres per day during the dry season. The milk
provides a valuable source of nutrition and income to the
family as the surplus is sold to a local processer, providing
a steady year-round income. The farmers have also been
trained on how to preserve excess milk by making fermented
milk and cottage cheese, especially during the wet season
when farmers produce more milk than the processing
factory can take.
Milk is not the only valuable output from the cows. The
farmers make dry compost, as well as generate renewable
energy from biogas. The Kaduma family uses the biogas
for cooking and lighting. Biogas is not only a much cleaner
source of energy, but also saves the environment from
deforestation. Biogas production also produces bio-slurry, a
wet compost that is very rich in nitrogen. The Kaduma family
dries the bio-slurry and stores it for the planting season. As
a result of the use the organic fertilizers, vegetable crop
yields have increased by 50 per cent.
The farmers have also been trained on how to develop
tower gardens. Previously farmers would have their
vegetable gardens in the wetlands (vinyungu). This is an
environmentally harmful and time-consuming practice, as
the gardens are a distance away from the home.
The information about this project was provided by Sokoine
University of Agriculture (Morogoro, Tanzania). The farmers are
participating in the on-going research project Up-scaling and Out-
scaling Technologies for Enhancing Integrated Dairy Production
System in Njombe District, under the Enhancing Pro-poor Innovation
for Natural Resource and Agricultural Value Chains Programme.
Integrated dairy farming in Njombe, Tanzania
43
resulted in an 8 per cent increase in the yield of wheat. Stanger
and Lauer (2008) made similar findings in a study spanning
35 years. Together with conservation tillage, crop rotation has
been shown to significantly increase structural stability of soil and
the concentration of organic carbon in a 0–8 centimetre depth of
soil. This has the potential to maintain crop productivity, protect
the soil and improve soil quality (Carter and Sanderson 2001).
According to Lithourgidis et al. (2011), inter-cropping results in
greater yields due to the use of a mixture of crops with dierent
but complementing rooting ability, canopy structure, height
and nutrient requirements. For example, inter-cropping maize
with cowpea increases light interception in the crops, reduces
water evaporation and improves conservation of soil moisture
compared with a maize mono-crop (Ghanbari et al. 2010). The
soil is better conserved through greater ground cover than
in mono-cropping, while the incidence of pests and diseases
is also reduced. Inter-cropping enhances the abundance of
predators and parasites, preventing the build-up of pests
and reducing the use of chemical pesticides. For example,
black aphid (Aphis fabae) infestations of beans are lowered
when beans are intercropped with taller maize plants, which
interfere with aphid colonization (Ogenga-Latigo et al.1993).
Intercropping beans with maize also decreases the incidence
and severity of bacterial blight and rust (Fininsa 1996).
There is growing interest in integrated farming due to its
potential for profitability and stability of farm income, long-
term sustainability and greater food yields as well as because of
concerns about natural resource degradation (Russelle et al. 2006).
Integrated crop-livestock systems foster diverse cropping
systems, including seasonal and perennial legume forages
and cereals, which bring multiple environmental benefits. For
example, integrated systems may use animal manure, which
enhances soil fertility, while the perennial crops are important
for carbon sequestration (Russelle et al. 2006).
The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA 2005) strongly
suggested that in order to meet the need to increase global food
output there should be more emphasis on the development
of environmentally and ecologically sound methods for the
intensification of food production. Systems such as crop
rotation, mixed cropping and integrated farming provide greater
sustainability than approaches that solely use chemicals and
other non-ecosystem-based practices.
44
45
Food loss and waste in forest ecosystems
Forests play an essential role in feeding the world’s population. More than 410 million people are
directly dependent on forests for food supplements. In addition to providing food directly they play
an indirect role by delivering ecosystem services that other food provisioning ecosystems depend
on, including carbon sequestration, water recycling and soil fertility improvement. Historically,
forests have been cleared to make way for agriculture. Currently there is a net loss of 5.2 million
hectares of forest every year. Deforestation reduces the planet’s capacity to produce food in the
long-term as important services such as habitat for pollinators and soil fertility improvement
provided by forests are lost. A shift towards ecosystem-based management approaches that
recognize the role of forests in food security is necessary to ensure that forests will be part of the
long-term solution for feeding the world’s growing population.
Forests for food security
As one of the most diverse ecosystems on earth, forests are
central to the survival of many people. According to UNEP
(2011a), more than 410 million people are highly dependent on
forests for their livelihood and for food supplements, especially
the rural poor in developing countries. About 60 million
indigenous people who live in forests are directly dependent
on the health of the ecosystem and the services it provides
(FAO 2012a). The value of extracted non-wood forest products
in 2005 was estimated at US$18.5 billion of which the majority
came from edible products (MA 2005).
Forests provide a wide variety of food items such as fruits,
mushrooms, nuts, seeds, roots, tubers, leaves, honey, wild
animals, birds and insects. For many, especially indigenous and
low-income groups living in or nearby forests, these food items
constitute a significant part of their diet (FAO 2011a; Sunderland
et al. 2013). Bush-meat is the main source of protein for the rural
poor in the Amazon Basin while over 4.5 million tonnes of bush-
meat are extracted each year from the Congo Basin for both
rural and urban dwellers (Nasi et al. 2011). Forests also provide
valuable feed for livestock in developing countries, enhancing
the quality and quantity of milk and meat (FAO 2011a).
In poor communities, diets are often high in cereals, which lack
vitamins and proteins that are crucial for a healthy life. Nutrient-
rich food from the forest is therefore important for children
(Sunderland et al. 2013). Nutrients from forest products include
minerals and vitamins from fruits, carbohydrates from roots
and oils and proteins from nuts and seeds (FAO 2011a). Insects,
commonly collected in forests in Africa, Latin America and Asia,
are also nutrient-rich food. According to van Huis et al. (2013)
about 2 billion people eat insects regularly. Mealworms,
for example, are rich in protein, vitamins and minerals with
comparable levels to that of fish and meat.
Collecting and selling forest food items as well as other non-wood
forest products is a common income-generating activity in many
developing countries (FAO 2012a). For rural poor, forests serve as
vital safety nets during periods of food shortages or low incomes
(FAO 2011a). In Ethiopia, beekeeping and honey production from
wild honeybees is a central element of rural livelihoods. The
beekeepers use honey as a dietary supplement as well as an
income generating strategy (Kebede and Lemma 2007).
State of the world’s forests
Ten thousand years ago forests covered 6 billion hectares of
land. However by 2010 the world’s forests had been reduced
to about 4 billion hectares, or approximately 31 per cent of the
Earth’s land cover. In spite of improvements in recent years,
an alarming 13 million hectares of forest is lost each year
46
due to deforestation and natural events (FAO 2010a). This is
equivalent to an area about the size of 36 football fields being
lost every minute (WWF 2013). When taking into account the
expansion of natural and planted forests, the annual net loss
in forest area between 2000 and 2010 was 5.2 million hectares
(FAO 2010a).
Deforestation rates are highest in the tropical areas of South
America and Africa (FAO 2010a), where the majority of forest
dependent people live (MA 2005; FAO 2012a). Between 2000 and
2010 South America had a net loss of 4 million hectares per year,
while Africa had a net loss of 3.4 million hectares per year. As a
region, Asia had a 2.2 million hectare net increase per year from
2000 to 2010, but this was mostly due to China’s large contribution
to aorestation as other countries in South and South East Asia are
still experiencing high rates of net loss (FAO 2010a). While Central
and North America had about the same extent of forests in 2010 as
in 2000, European forests are expanding.
Deforestation is due to a combination of economic, political
and institutional factors (MA 2005). They include agricultural
expansion, timber extraction, illegal logging and land
conversion to grazing land and plantations (FAO 2012a).
Agricultural expansion is by far the main driver, causing about
80 per cent of deforestation worldwide (Kissinger et al. 2012).
47
This illustrates the complexity of the relationship between
forests and food security. A change in land use from forest to
agricultural or grazing land will most likely increase net food
production. However, while such land cover change may ensure
short-term food security it is important to consider the long-
term consequences.
Food loss and waste in forest ecosystems
Although forests are one of the key food provisioning
ecosystems, their role and contribution to food security, food
loss and waste is not as obvious, since forest foods are not part
of commercial food production. There are no detailed studies
that have estimated the global or regional quantity or value
of forests’ contribution to food production or food loss and
waste. The challenges with such studies lie with the diculty
of estimating a monetary value for non-market food items
and quantifying how much food forests produce. The most
significant contribution of forests to food security however may
be the ecosystem services they provide that are vital for other
food-providing ecosystems.
Forest ecosystems’ regulating and supporting services are
fundamental to other food provisioning ecosystems, especially
agro-ecosystems (MA 2005; FAO 2011a). Clean water is a
necessity for all food production. Forests capture, filter, store
and regulate the flow of water across landscapes, ensuring
steady water flows to agricultural production downstream and
clean drinking water for people and livestock (Power 2010).
Further, forests prevent soil erosion and landslides as tree
and plant roots bind soil particles together. Deforestation is
one of the key drivers of the estimated 10 million hectares of
arable land that are degraded each year due to soil erosion
(Kang and Akinnifesi 2000; Pimentel 2006). Trees also play
a vital role in increasing soil productivity by adding nutrients
that are necessary for crop production (Pimentel et al. 1997;
Kang and Akinnifesi 2000). In addition, trees serve as habitat
for insects and birds that provide pollination and natural pest
control in wild and agricultural food production (Sunderland
et al. 2013).
Forests are one of the richest ecosystems on earth with over 80
per cent of the terrestrial biodiversity (FAO 2012a). Conserving
biodiversity in forests is not only crucial for today’s food
security, but also for future generations. Forests act as a gene
pool containing numerous varieties of crops that are cultivated
today. Coee, cacao, tea and avocado are all examples of
cultivated food items that can be found in their natural form
in forests (FAO 2011a). Protecting wild food items is crucial
as future events, such as changes in climate or diseases, may
aect the productivity of crops commonly grown today.
48
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fourth
Assessment Report (IPCC 2007) estimated that the forest
sector, including deforestation, contributes 17.4 per cent of all
greenhouse gases from anthropogenic sources. On the other
hand, forests absorb about 2.4 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide
per year, equivalent to one-third of the carbon dioxide released
through the burning of fossil fuels (Pan et al. 2011). The ability
of forests to store carbon dioxide in trees and soil, and hence
mitigate climate change, is therefore an important ecosystem
service (MA 2005; FAO 2011a) that indirectly contributes
towards securing future food production, especially for rural
farmers who are struggling with changing weather patterns.
One of the challenges related to forest food is that it is seasonal,
meaning that large proportions are harvested at the same time.
Rural households as well as local markets often lack sucient
storage and preservation capacity to prevent the food from
decomposing. Traditional methods of processing food such as
drying and smoking are important strategies (FAO 2011a) that
can contribute towards reducing food waste and extending
the food supply into non-productive periods. Fuel wood is the
main source of energy used for processing and cooking food,
making wood from forests an essential component of local food
systems (Sunderland et al. 2013). It is estimated that 2.4 billion
people use biomass (wood, crop residues, charcoal and dung)
energy for heating and processing food (UNEP 2011a).
Ecosystem approaches to forest management
National forest policies should give more priority to the
contributions of forests to food security and to millions of
livelihoods (UNEP 2011a; FAO 2011a). Managing forests
sustainably is essential for healthy ecosystems and for
the continuation of forests as a provider of food as well as
other supporting and regulating services important for the
productivity of other ecosystems. Through deforestation
practices such as timber extraction and land conversion,
food is being lost directly through cutting down plants that
produce food and destroying habitat for animals, insects and
birds. Food is also lost indirectly through the degradation of
forest ecosystems that provide services crucial for other food
producing ecosystems, such as water regulation, pollination,
soil fertility improvement and nutrient cycling.
Ecosystem approaches to forest management can play a crucial
role in averting food loss by recognizing the inter-linkages
with other ecosystems as well as the value of forest ecosystem
49
services. Sustainable forest management is the leading
ecosystem approach today, taking into account economic and
social factors while sustaining forest ecosystems (FAO 2012a). It
is a move away from species-focused management approaches,
such as managing forests solely for timber production, towards
sustainable management of a wide range of forests’ ecosystem
services (MA 2005).
Agroforestry, the practice of combining agricultural production
with trees in or outside of forest ecosystems, has gained
momentum as a sustainable practice beneficial for food
and nutrition security. By planting trees amongst crops on
cultivated land, agroforestry provides many of the same forest
ecosystem services that are beneficial for food production
(Dawson et al. 2013). Though agroforestry is an interdisciplinary
practice, residing between forestry and agriculture, it can be
viewed as a complement to sustainable forest management
(Schoeneberger and Ruark 2003) that enhances food production,
increases farmers’ incomes and improves the overall health of
surrounding ecosystems (Jose 2009; FAO 2013d).
The combination of agriculture and trees provides more
environmental benefits than other agricultural models. When
managed well, agroforestry can avert ‘disservices’ from
agriculture, such as greenhouse gas emissions, loss of wildlife
habitat, nutrient run-o and soil erosion by providing ecosystem
services similar to forests (Power 2010). Though the benefits
from agroforestry dier between management practices and
climatic regions they include water regulation, regulation of
soil fertility and nutrient cycling, carbon sequestration, soil
erosion control and increased pollination, pest control and
biodiversity conservation (MA 2005; Jose 2009; FAO 2013d). In
India, agroforestry systems have been used to rehabilitate salt-
aected land by planting salt-tolerant trees (Nair 2007). Pimentel
and Kidd (1992 in Pimentel et al. 1997) found that planting
leguminous trees between maize crops in Central America
reduced soil erosion from 30 tonnes/ha/yr to 1 tonne/ha/yr
on slopes of 2–5 per cent. In the Shandong province in China,
farmers who introduced agroforestry in 1977 saw a 10 per cent
increase in agricultural productivity by 1990 (Yin and Hyde 2000).
In spite of its long traditions and documented benefits, investment
in agroforestry has been relatively low. There is a need for decision-
makers as well as agricultural organizations to realize the potential
of agroforestry and its role in food production, environmental
protection and poverty reduction (FAO 2013d).
50
51
Food loss and waste in aquatic ecosystems
Aquatic ecosystems are crucial for food security. Overfishing is depleting the world fish stocks and
the resource base for many people. Yet, an estimated 35 per cent of all caught fish and seafood
is never consumed, because it is either lost or wasted along the food supply chain. Estimates
suggests that discards from fishing vessels alone could satisfy the daily protein needs of
370 million people for a year, and by recovering depleted fish stocks the increase in fish catch
could cover the protein needs of an additional 90 million people. Food loss and waste from aquatic
ecosystems is to a great extent caused by prevailing management practices. A shift to ecosystem
approaches in fisheries could avert such loss and waste by reducing the degradation of aquatic
ecosystems, curbing overfishing and allowing fish stocks to recover.
Food provisioning by aquatic ecosystems
Aquatic ecosystems, including rivers and lakes, inland seas,
floodplains, estuaries, coastal lagoons and open oceans, are the
source of multiple ecosystem services and human benefits. The
aquatic ecosystems deliver supporting and regulating services
such as nutrient cycling, atmospheric and climate regulation
and biological regulation. Mangroves are a source of wood,
provide nursery for juvenile fish and other marine organisms
and provide protection from storms, flooding and soil erosion.
Wetlands are important conservation areas and floodplains
are used for agriculture (MA 2005). More importantly, aquatic
ecosystems are a crucial source of food and provide livelihood
for many people across the globe.
Fisheries, including aquaculture, support the livelihoods of
an estimated 180 million people (FAO 2012d). Ninety per cent
of those employed in the fisheries sector work in small-scale
enterprises, of which women constitute a significant part (World
Bank 2012). Fish are not only important for livelihoods, but also
provide a crucial and aordable source of protein, especially in
developing countries. In 2009, 145 million tonnes of fish were
caught or farmed through aquaculture globally, of which about
122 million tonnes were used as food for people (FAO 2012d).
In 2010, the estimated annual per capita fish consumption was
18.6 kilogrammes as compared to 9.9 kilogrammes in the 1960s
(FAO 2012d). Africa consumes the least amount of fish per person
while Asia is responsible for two-thirds of all fish consumption
globally with China representing about half of the fish consumed
in this region (FAO 2012d). It is estimated that fish provide
about 10 per cent of human calorie intake globally (Nellemann
et al. 2009). In 2008 fish represented 15 per cent of the average
protein intake of more than 3 billion people (FAO 2011b).
The state of the world’s fisheries
World fisheries have gone through drastic expansion over the
last 50 years. Between 1950 and 1990 there was a fourfold
increase in the global fish catch. Since then, the total amount of
fish, shellfish and crab caught in the seas has remained more
or less constant, while aquaculture has grown steadily at an
annual growth rate of 8.8 per cent between 1980 and 2010 (FAO
2012b; Schäfer et al. 2010).
The intense use of fish stocks that are commercially exploited
worldwide has come at a cost. According to estimates made by
the FAO more than half of the world’s fish stocks are categorized
as fully exploited and 30 per cent as overexploited (FAO 2012b).
The fishing capacity of the European Union’s fishing fleet has
been estimated to be two to three times the size oceans can
sustainably support (European Commission 2008). Illegal,
unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is perhaps just as, or
more, significant than overfishing. Though dicult to estimate,
experts suggest that the annual illegal catch is between 11 and 26
million tonnes (Schmidt et al. 2013). Overfishing causes a total
net loss of about US$50 million annually (World Bank 2009),
and based on calculations from Sirinivasan et al. (2010), had
52
World fisheries production
Source: FAO, The State of World Fisheries and Aquacultures, 2012
1950
1960
1970
1980
1990
2000
2011
1950
1960
1970
1980
1990
2000
2011
Latin America
North America
Europe
Asia
Africa
Oceania
2009-2011
2021
0
10
20
30
Per capita fish consumption
Kilogrammes
Source: FAO, The State of Food Insecurity in the World, 2012
Fisheries production, utilization and supply
0
20
40
60
80
100
120
140
160
0
20
40
60
80
100
120
140
160
Million tonnes
Aquaculture
Capture
0
3
6
9
12
15
18
21
Fish utilization
Million tonnes
Food supply
Kilogrammes per capita
Food
Non-food uses
53
As yields from captured fish are leveling out, the question
has been raised as to whether aquaculture will be able
to provide the extra fish yields needed for the world’s
expected 9.6 billion inhabitants in 2050. According to the
FAO (2013e), 62.7 million tonnes of seafood were produced
for human consumption in 2011 through aquaculture. With
an annual growth rate of 8.8 per cent between 1980 and
2010 (FAO 2012b), no other food production sector has
grown as fast in the past 40 years (UNEP 2012). Aquaculture
is gaining a dominant position within fisheries with a
40 per cent share of the total fish production (FAO 2013e)
and experts predict that aquaculture will gain an increasing
role in the global food supply (FAO 2010b).
Asia is the leading producer in the sector contributing nearly
90 per cent of all aquaculture production. Eight out of the
top 10 aquaculture producing countries are found in Asia,
with China as the main producer with 38.6 million tonnes,
followed by India, Vietnam, Indonesia and Bangladesh
(FAO 2013e). In addition to being an important contribution
to national economies, aquaculture is an important provider
of nutrient-rich food to the Asian region. The majority comes
from large-scale commercial production, but Asia also has
long traditions of fish farming for local food production.
In several Asian countries, fish is traditionally farmed
on flooded rice fields (Halwart and Gupta 2004). In fact,
developing countries are the main producers of aquaculture
with as much as 80 per cent of all aquaculture taking place in
developing countries. This highlights the sector’s importance
for economic development, poverty reduction and food
security (Asche and Khatun 2006). In Africa, aquaculture
production is still low with only 1.4 million tonnes produced
in 2011 (FAO 2013e). Scientists (Schmidt et al. 2013) as well as
international organizations such as the FAO (Moehl et al. 2008)
and WorldFish (2012) are promoting the potential for
aquaculture in Africa, and predict that it can play an
increasing role in supplying food for the continent.
In spite of its future prospects, aquaculture has been
criticized. Perhaps one of its most censured practices is
feeding farmed fish fishmeal made up of large proportions
of wild fish as this increases pressure on current forage fish
stocks (Naylor et al. 2000) and their dependent species. The
ratio of wild fisheries inputs to farmed fish output is currently
0.63, though it takes about five kilogrammes of wild fish
to produce 1 kilogramme of salmon (Naylor et al. 2009).
Fishmeal is usually made up of small pelagic fish such as
anchovies, herring, sand eels, mackerels, menhaden and
sardines (Stuart 2009). While there is no direct evidence,
there is concern that fishmeal will compete with human
food consumption, especially in regions where small
pelagic fish are important components to diets, typically in
Africa, Asia and Latin America, regions that also have the
highest number of hungry people in the world (WorldFish
2011; Tacon and Metian 2009).
Intensive aquaculture practices may also lead to
environmental degradation and changes in local
ecosystems. For example, intensive fish farming pollutes
waters with uneaten feed, fecal and metabolic waste from
the fish. This can lead to over-fertilization (eutrophication),
that can cause algal bloom and oxygen deprived dead
zones, harmful to both wild and farmed species (Schmidt
et al. 2013). When alien fish species, raised in aquaculture
systems, enter the natural habitat, either through release
or escape, these non-native fish can cause loss of native
stocks through predation, competition or transmission of
diseases (Naylor et al. 2000).
In spite of these criticisms, many fish farms are more
environmentally friendly than other food producing
systems. For example, aquaculture has lower nitrogen and
phosphorus emissions than beef and pork. It takes 15 times
less feed to produce one kilogramme of carp compared to one
kilogramme of beef (Schmidt et al. 2013). According to the FAO
(2011b) “responsible aquaculture can provide substantial
environmental benefits, such as recovery of depleted wild
stocks, preservation of wetlands, desalinization of sodic
lands, pest control, weed control, and agricultural and human
waste treatment”. About one-third or 20 million tonnes of all
farmed fish is produced without artificial feed (FAO 2012b).
Mussel farming relies on natural feed from the ocean and
intensive mussel farming has been shown to be beneficial
for the ecosystems as mussels filter water to sieve out tiny
particles of food, counteracting over-fertilization and algal
blooms (Schmidt et al. 2013).
As the aquaculture sector grows, it is crucial that the
environmental and social concerns are thoroughly
addressed and that sustainable management practices
are adopted (Diana et al. 2013). If managed sustainably,
aquaculture can be part of the solution to feeding a growing
human population as well as to restoring the dwindling
fish stocks, since increased investment in aquaculture can
potentially take the pressure o wild fish stocks, giving
them time to recover (Asche and Khatun 2006).
Aquaculture
54
overfishing been prevented since the 1950s the increase in fish
catch in 2000 would be enough to cover the annual protein
need of 90 million people.
The increase in fish catch from the 1950s was a result of new
and more eective fishing technologies that made it possible
to fish further out and gain access to deep-sea fish stock. These
fish stocks, however, are long-lived and late-maturing which
makes them particularly vulnerable to overfishing (WWF 2012).
While improved technologies, such as bottom trawling, increase
yields in the short-term they can cause long-term and permanent
declines in fish stocks. The east coast of North America and
European Union fishing waters, in particular, have been severely
over-fished in recent decades. Many fish stocks, including
the cod o the east coast of Canada have been overfished to
the extent of depletion (MA 2005). Similarly, overfishing has
severely reduced the tuna stock in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans
(Srinivasan et al. 2010). Research has shown that fish stocks
are often highly resilient and capable of recovery even if
overexploited. However, overexploitation over a prolonged
period of time is detrimental for stocks, and recovery is highly
improbable for the majority of the world’s fish stock, including the
Canadian cod (Neubauer et al. 2013). This is not only devastating
for the survival of the fish stock, but also for food security as
overfishing results in a permanent decline in fish catch.
Food loss and waste in the fishery sector
Overfishing has resulted in marine and freshwater
ecosystems losing their potential productivity. According to
Srinivasan et al. (2010), the total fish catch in 2004 could
have been 9.9 million tonnes higher had fish stocks not been
overexploited. From a regional perspective, the fish catch of
North America could have been 23 per cent higher, while Europe
and Africa could have had a 17 per cent higher fish catch.
Habitat destruction is another reason why fish stocks are
decreasing (Graham et al. 2007; Paddack et al. 2009). Coral reefs
serve as important nursery habitats for fish (Nagelkerken et al.
55
2000), and it is estimated that reef-associated fish constitute
about a quarter of the total fish catch in developing countries
(Burke et al. 2011). Globally, as much as 75 per cent of coral
reefs are threatened by local and global pressures including
overfishing, destructive fishing, coastal development and
pollution, as well as rising ocean temperatures (Burke et al. 2011).
A study by Paddack et al. (2009) links fish loss in the Caribbean
of 2.6 to 6 per cent per year between 1986 and 2007 to a gradual
degradation of coral reefs. Since the 1970s, the region has seen
an 80 per cent reduction in coral cover. Similar findings have
been observed in the Indo-Pacific where the coral bleaching
event of 1998 lead to a wide-scale loss of coral reefs. After five
to ten years there was an increase in larger fish (>45cm) while
the amount of smaller fish (<30 cm) were declining, indicating a
reduction in juvenile fish (Graham et al. 2007).
Of all fish and seafood extracted from oceans and freshwater,
FAO reports that about 35 per cent is lost or wasted along the
food supply chain (Gustavsson et al. 2011a). However it must be
noted that there are inconsistencies in data about the global
fish and seafood loss and waste of fish and seafood. This is
because there is a lack of data on bycatch and discards, but
also because there is a debate about how much of the discards
should be considered food loss.
Fish discards – the most direct form of fish waste
Bycatch, the capture of non-targeted aquatic organisms,
is threatening the world’s remaining fish stock. Bycatch
is a result of unselective gear that leads to the capture of
untargeted fish of incorrect species, size or sex as well
as other marine species, such as turtles and sea birds.
Though some bycatch is sold, or eaten by crew, most of it is
discarded or dumped back into the sea, often dead or dying
(Davies et al. 2009; Gilman et al. 2013).
The amount of fish that is discarded in commercial fisheries
is debated. Average discards in the 1990s were estimated at
7.3 million tonnes, or 8 per cent of total catches (Kelleher 2005).
Too often fishers lose or leave their used nets, hooks and
traps in the ocean. This equipment then floats around
and continues to ‘fish’ on its own, often for a long period
of time. This phenomenon, referred to as ‘ghost fishing’,
traps and kills thousands of fish and other marine life
including dolphins, sea turtles, seals and whales every
year. Fishing gear can get lost when passing vessels cut
the marker buoys or when trawl and seine wraps break
during fishing. In some cases, old or broken gear is
purposely dumped because the fishers see no value in
it and treat the ocean as a waste bin (Smith 2005a). It is
primarily passive fishing gear such as longlines, gillnets,
entangling nets, trammel nets, traps and pots that are
involved in ghost fishing (Smith 2005b). At first smaller
fish get trapped in the nets and then the nets get filled
with other marine animals including sharks, dolphins
and seals as they try to scavenge o the trapped fish
and other marine species (Macfadyen et al. 2009). While
data is scarce on the number of fish nets being left in the
sea worldwide, research on European fisheries suggests
that 25 000 nets are either lost or discarded every year
in European waters (Brown et al. 2005). In European
waters deep water gillnet fisheries targeting deep water
shark and monkfish represent the greatest portion of
ghost fishing (Brown et al. 2005). Ghost fishing, which
aects target fish species, the seabed environment
and often endangered marine species, has severe
environmental impacts while also constituting a great
waste of potential human food (Macfadyen et al. 2009).
Ghost fishing
56
When unmanaged catch is added to the figures, the number rises
to approximately 40 million tonnes of fish and other seafood.
Unmanaged catch refers to catch “that does not have specific
management to ensure the take is sustainable” (Davies et al. 2009).
In European fisheries alone approximately 2.3 million tonnes of
fish is discarded in the North Atlantic and the North Sea each year,
accounting for about 40 to 60 per cent of all fish caught in Europe
(Stuart 2009; Schäfer et al. 2010). Bycatch is especially high in
shrimp fisheries with discard rates as high as 95 per cent of the
total catch (Clucas 1997). Small-scale fisheries are reported to
show considerably lower discard rates than large-scale fisheries.
In developing countries, discard percentages of the total catch of
small-scale fishing operations have been estimated to be as low
as 1 per cent (World Bank 2012).
Elsewhere the magnitude of bycatch is high, resulting in extreme
losses of food for humans. Based on the global figure of bycatch,
it is estimated that the loss of food through bycatch is enough
to meet the total protein calorie needs of 370 million people.
Although not all bycatch is discarded or suitable for human
food and some can be re-fished, bycatch and discards cause an
enormous amount of food waste. Converting suitable bycatch
to aquaculture feed is one way of reducing fish waste while
also increasing fish availability. One estimate suggests that
the amount of fish discarded at sea can support a 50 per cent
increase in aquaculture production – approximately the same
increase needed to maintain per capita fish consumption at
current levels by 2050 (Nellemann et al. 2009).
Ecosystem approaches to managing aquatic
ecosystems
The desperate situation of the world’s fish stocks has
resulted in a critical review of prevailing practices in fisheries
management. For example, many critics argue that the
fisheries management within the European Union has largely
failed to manage its fish resources sustainably because short-
term jobs have been given priority over protection of fish
stocks. Within the European Union, the annual fish quotas
in recent years have been 48 per cent higher than scientists’
recommendations and this has resulted in 88 per cent of
Europe’s fish stocks being overexploited (Schäfer et al. 2010).
6. Estimate is based on findings from Davies et al. (2009), average protein
in fish and average daily protein needs for people.
57
At the same time, aquatic ecosystems are being degraded
through pollution from coastal development, intensive
fishing methods and aquaculture, while ocean temperatures
are increasing due to anthropogenic climate change, which
is destroying the vulnerable coral reefs. These problems
have led to increased recognition that better fisheries
management is necessary to restore aquatic ecosystems
and fish stocks. To do this fisheries management needs to
become more holistic as well as better integrated with other
sectors that have competing interests for ocean, coastal and
freshwater resources.
Ecosystem-Based Management (EBM) is one such
management practice that has gained momentum in recent
years and which can be applied to marine and coastal areas,
freshwater fisheries and aquaculture. While traditional
fisheries management tends to view fish species in
isolation from each other, EBM is a cross-sectoral approach
that addresses the impacts fisheries have on the marine
ecosystems as well as the impact that other sectors, such as
agriculture or shipping, have on fisheries. On a policy level
this means that fisheries, maritime, energy, agriculture,
coastal development, environmental and other relevant
sectors’ policies must be coordinated. EBM does not compete
with other holistic management approaches, such as
Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Management (EBFM), Integrated
Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) or Marine Protected Areas
(MPAs). Rather these become tools to successfully implement
EBM or where they are already in place EBM builds on them
(Garcia et al. 2003; UNEP 2011b). Through EBM and related
management approaches, food loss and waste due to degraded
ecosystems and poor management practices could be averted.
For example, EBFM considers the status of commercial fish
stocks and ecosystem components that interact with and thus
threaten those stocks, such as predators, prey and habitats
(WWF 2007; UNEP 2011b; Nguyen 2012).
In Brazil, the government and local authorities have engaged
with communities and the fishery sector to develop a
management scheme, which ensures that fishers have
sustainable livelihoods while also protecting fish stocks and
habitats. The management scheme includes fish refugia, areas
zoned for multiple use, restrictions on gear to reduce by-catch
and discards and support for small-scale fisheries and family-
58
based aquaculture (UNEP 2011b). The Marine Protected Areas
are similar in that the objective is to protect special habitats
or species through no-take reserves, maintain livelihoods,
facilitate restoration or control access to an area. In the San
Andres Archipelago in Colombia, an MPA was established in
2000 as a first step towards EBM, to conserve the largest open
ocean coral reefs in the Caribbean as well as protecting the
livelihoods and tenure of the people (Agardy 2010).
Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) aims to achieve
sustainable use of the coast by coordinating the initiatives of
various coastal economic sectors, such as agriculture, fisheries
and shipping, targeting all levels of governance and encouraging
the involvement of all stakeholders in the planning of
management strategies for the coast (Clark 1992; Post and Lundin
1996). The link between eutrophication of water bodies due to
agricultural pollution and reduced fish stocks is one example of
the inter-linkage between human land-based activities and water
bodies. In worst-case scenarios, agricultural runo and seepage
of phosphorus and nitrogen into water systems create so-called
‘dead zones’ that impact fish populations and other aquatic
biodiversity. Such negative side eects can be avoided through
ICZM (Clark 1992). ICZM can therefore serve as a good starting
point for EBM. From assessing the sustainable use of coastal
areas, EBM can further link land use activities in the coastal zone
to the ocean (UNEP 2011b).
59
Located 65 kilometers south of Mombasa, Kenya, Gazi Bay
is home to several villages surrounding a mangrove forest.
Local communities depend on the mangroves for wood and
non-wood forest products and services such as seafood,
firewood, building poles and traditional medicine. However,
mangroves have been extensively used and degraded since
the 1970s, through commercial logging and conversion of
mangrove land to other land uses particularly agriculture
and coastal development. Loss of mangroves has led to
shortages of firewood and building poles, a decline in
fisheries and increased coastal erosion, hence the urgent
need for the rehabilitation, conservation and sustainable
utilization of the mangroves at Gazi Bay.
One of the major services provided by mangroves is
their role as a breeding and nursery habitat for fish. The
intertwining mangrove roots provide a home and shelter
from predators for juvenile fish, crabs and other marine
life, supporting biodiversity while also filtering water and
protecting shorelines. The mangroves at Gazi Bay support
both on- and oshore fisheries, providing food and income
to local communities. Researchers have estimated that
approximately 31 per cent of the fish landed in Gazi in 2010
was directly related to the mangrove habitat (UNEP 2011c).
The total economic value of the rehabilitated mangroves in
Gazi Bay has been estimated at US$3,000 per hectare per
year (Kairo et al. 2009).
Thought to be the first community-led mangrove carbon
project in the world, the Mikoko Pamoja project, translated
as Mangrove Together from the Kiswahili language, aims
to use carbon finance to support sustainable management
practices. Mikoko Pamoja is verified under the Plan Vivo
Standard, a certification framework for projects supporting
the rural poor with sustainable natural resource management,
using payments for ecosystem services – in this case carbon.
The project includes requirements and processes to ensure
that it benefits livelihoods and ecosystems, and provides
ethical and fairly traded climate services.
Mikoko Pamoja includes community-based mangrove
reforestation, restoration and avoided deforestation
activities in an area of 107 ha. The 3 000 tonnes CO
-
equivalent of carbon credits generated through the project
are to be sold onto the voluntary carbon market, generating
approximately US$12,000 for the local community per
annum. One-third of the annual carbon income generated
through the project will be used for the rehabilitation and
protection of mangroves.
Through the Mikoko Pamoja experience, it is expected
that coastal fisheries and communities throughout Kenya
and potentially internationally will benefit from mangrove
conservation, restoration and protection supported with
revenue from carbon credits.
Mikoko Pamoja – community-led mangrove conservation protecting local fisheries resources
60
61
Conclusion
There are many challenges to world food security. Key among them are high population growth,
the large amount of food lost or wasted, unsustainable use of scarce natural resources and the
degradation of ecosystems.
In order to meet the needs of the world’s growing population,
estimated to reach 9.6 billion by 2050, food production should
increase by as much as 60 per cent. Conventional means to
increase food production, including technological solutions
such as high-yielding hybrid seed varieties and livestock
progeny, will result in very marginal annual increases in food
production (around 1 per cent per year over the next two
decades). Accelerated cropland expansion will result in further
negative impacts on forests and other ecosystems.
Global food security is further threatened by the large amount
of food that is either lost or wasted. This food does not feed
people, and also wastes the natural resources used to produce
it, leaving fewer resources to produce the next food crop, meat
or fish catch. Against such a background, it is evident that
the solutions to the world’s food security challenges depend
on both significant reductions in the amount of food that is
lost or wasted and the restoration of ecosystems so that food
production is not only sustained but also increased.
Food losses due to degraded agro-ecosystems are particularly
alarming, with soil erosion, the most common form of land
degradation, responsible for the annual loss of topsoil at rates
that are 10 to 40 times greater than soil renewal. In drylands
yield losses of as much as 4 – 10 per cent in crop production are
incurred due to land degradation, desertification and drought.
Reductions in food production are also caused by the loss of
ecosystem services such as insect pollination. About 35 per cent
of crops produced depend on insect and animal pollination,
and the depletion and death of insects including bees are
likely to have dramatic consequences for food production. A
conservative estimate suggests that restoration of a quarter of
the global degraded agricultural land could be enough to feed
740 million people.
Similarly, much potential food is lost in the world’s fisheries
due to overharvesting and overexploitation of the global fish
stocks. If fish stocks were sustainably managed, an additional
9.9 million tonnes of fish and other seafood would be available
on the global market, enough to meet the daily protein needs
of 90 million people. Discards from commercial fisheries is one
of the most wasteful practices found in food production, with
as much as 40 million of the total global catch being discarded
every year. Discards from fishing vessels alone could fulfill the
daily protein needs of 370 million people for a whole year.
A significant amount of the food that i