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Around 30% of world’s food is wasted: report

Eating less meat can give more land to plant crops

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Before reaching consumers, around 30 percent of food may be lost or wasted, a recent British government report revealed.

Other estimates have put the figure at around 50 percent, despite growing fears of food crisis.

"It's not about increasing production, but about improving efficiency," Paul McMahon, the managing partner of the UK investment company SLM Partners, was quoted by the UAE-based The National newspaper saying to the Agribusiness Outlook Forum, which ran alongside the AgraME agricultural trade show in Dubai this week.

Environmental degradation, climate change affecting farmland, and the rise in population in countries such as India, are factors that will most likely exacerbate food crisis worldwide.

Enough food?

There is adequate crop production, but food is not always distributed to where it is needed, Sudhakar Tomar, the managing director of Hakan Agro, a food trading company in Dubai, told The National.

Tomar said that small changes in developed world's eating habits could make a huge difference.

While billions in poor countries suffer from hunger and malnourishment, richer countries’ populations suffer obesity-related health problems. And as developing countries get richer, their demand for meat is likely to grow considerably.

But Tomar estimated that if people in the developed world ate 10 percent less meat, enough farmland would be freed up to grow an extra 500 million tons of lentils and pulses every year.

With better agricultural practices, food security could be achieved within a lifetime, he added.

"Improving yields in third world countries, stopping wastage from market to dining table in the first world and with a little restraint on our meat consumption and we won't have to wait until 2050."

Global agriculture currently produces 4,600 calories per person per day, enough food to feed the world population, but much of that is being lost along the supply chain.

Around a fifth of the world's farmland is currently used to grow crops for biofuels rather than food. Meanwhile, food prices are at a record high.