Food distribution companies, supermarkets, hotels, restaurants, public officials, NGOs and local consumers took part in two separate workshops held recently at Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q) as part of “Safeguarding Food and Environment in Qatar” (SAFE-Q) project.
The three-year project will be run jointly by GU-Q, Cranfield and Brunel universities in the UK and the University of Western Sydney. The project is being implemented through a research grant from Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) and explores the issue of food waste in food distribution and consumption in Qatar.
Dr Emel Aktas, of Cranfield University, lead principal investigator for the project, said that raising awareness about the amount of food that is discarded as well as developing solutions to reduce food waste, is one of the most important aims of SAFE-Q.
“This project seeks to address a critical aspect of food security in Qatar and through the identification of possible food waste interventions can also be beneficial to other food constrained countries,”
Both workshops provided an overview of the SAFE-Q project’s aims, envisioned outcomes and activities as well as discussed the challenges of food waste at global, regional and national level. The participants further worked in groups to discuss the causes of food waste.
On the first day, the focus was on waste occurring during the handling, distribution, transportation and storage of food whereas on the second day the local stakeholders primarily focused on the causes of food waste as a result of food preparation, cooking and consumption.
As the participants analysed inter-relationships and cause and effect linkages between these factors, consideration of the economic, legal, social, cultural and environmental constraints were taken into account.
Zeynep Topaloglu, assistant professor of economics at GU-Q, emphasised the longer-term context of the project saying, “Through developing policy recommendations to reduce food waste as well as ensuring the sustainability of the food supply chain within the context of food security in Qatar, this project will support the implementation of the Qatar National Vision 2030.”
Qatar imports over 90% of its food needs. Producing food domestically is highly challenging due to, among others, its hot weather, unfertile soil and lack of rain, which hinders agricultural production in the country, but also throughout the region. Reducing waste during distribution and consumption can contribute to improving Qatar’s food security situation.
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