Dh6 bn worth of food wasted annually: Minister

Food waste and loss is costing the UAE Dh6 billion per year, according to UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, Mariam Al Mheiri…reports Asian Lite News

The minister was speaking at a social investment forum organised by the Emirates Foundation.

The Forum focused on the recently launched initiative, Ne’ma, which aims to achieve the UAE’s target of reducing food waste by 50 percent by 2030 to meet the country’s food security strategy and UN sustainable development goals.

This is a nationwide collaboration in partnership with the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment and the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s Court.

Speaking during the forum, Al Mheiri noted that her ministry had developed the national initiative, Ne’ma, after Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed spoke to her during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Khaleej Times reported.

He told her that it was very important for people to understand that the food security goes beyond the role of the government, and that the private sector and consumers also have a role to play.

Al Mheiri’s speech was titled ‘Introducing Ne’ma – the UAE’s new collaborative approach to reducing food loss and waste’.

The strategic goals of the initiative include discovering the main reasons for the behaviour that cause food loss, changing negative medium and long-term behaviour and promoting positive ones.

During her speech, the minister said that to reduce food waste, there must be a holistic approach where all stakeholders, including the government, the private sector, NGOs and the community need to be involved, it was reported.

Al Mheiri called food waste a major global challenge and said that practical solutions must be found “to ensure the world’s capacity to produce healthy and sustainable food that will meet the needs of the world’s population and help end hunger.”

“Currently,” she added, “around one-third of manufactured food is being wasted while over 800 million people are suffering from hunger around the world. If half of the wasted food can be utilised, the world can eliminate hunger.”

In May, Almheiri inaugurated the region’s first project that will upcycle organic waste into high-quality products.

The venture by innovative homegrown startup Circa Biotech farms black soldier fly (BSF) larvae, fed by food leftovers before being turned into animal proteins, organic fertilisers, and oils.

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Ministry of Climate Change and Environment also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Circa Biotech to support the pioneering project.

Circa Biotech’s project will initially produce 1.5 tonnes of organic fertiliser per month. At a later stage, the company plans to expand the production, treating 200 tonnes of food waste per day and upcycling it into the food value chain. This will help meet the increasing local demand for livestock feed. It will also curb the dependence on fishmeal in aquaculture, which is witnessing price increases and instability due to limited supply, with its costs reaching up to 80 percent of expenditure within the industry.

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