Economic conditions prompt families to reduce food waste.

Translated by Connor Myers

Despite the increase in the rate of food waste according to previous official estimates, the decline in economic conditions and the remarkable rise in prices ahead of the month of Ramadan led to clear changes in the behaviour of some families in how they prepare for this month, as they seek to reduce food waste and use it economically, after they became aware of the importance of appreciating the value of food and using it wisely.

These new changes among some families were revealed during a survey conducted by Amman-Net, where they explained the adoption of these habits in preparing food, with the aim of avoiding waste, by distributing the surplus to the needy or donating it to charitable organizations.

Some women also express in the survey that they have changed many previous habits in their behaviour, as they reduce the amount of food they cook according to need, due to the high costs of food, and do not throw the remaining food in the trash due to the difficult economic conditions.

Statistics indicate that the average annual expenditure for a family of 4 is about 12.5 thousand dinars, or about 1,042 dinars per month, which imposes additional economic pressure on families during this period.

Previous local studies show that 34% of food in Jordan is wasted and not consumed, especially on social occasions, stressing the importance of not purchasing food items in excess of citizens’ actual needs.

The amount of food wasted in the Kingdom reaches 950 thousand tons annually, causing the loss of 25 million cubic meters of water used in producing these quantities of food, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Food waste challenges

Economic and social analyst Hossam Ayesh explains that the problem of food waste is a global phenomenon and not just a local issue, but focuses on how this is related to the behaviours of families in preparing and storing food, especially on exceptional occasions such as the month of Ramadan.

Ayesh points out that this type of waste has serious consequences on the economy and the environment, as it results in a deterioration in income and the depletion of natural resources such as water and land, and since food constitutes about half of the energy consumed globally, this waste contributes to an increase in emissions of greenhouse gases, which affects agricultural productivity and food security.

Therefore, the Ministry of Agriculture warned that Jordan is facing a severe shortage of water resources, and thus food waste is increasing pressure on these resources, leading to environmental deterioration and additional costs on the agricultural and economic sector, in addition to the financial burdens added to producers, merchants, and consumers.

Ayesh considers the return on spending to be a major challenge to the Jordanian economy, and sees food waste as a prominent example, as Jordan imports large quantities of food and production inputs at a rate of more than 70%, and when a large portion of these resources is wasted, the country incurs billions in losses.

  Hence the importance of educating people about the importance of consuming food in a balanced manner and not wasting it, which includes improving the management of food resources and providing food more effectively. Some countries have tightened the laws related to food waste, which means imposing fines on individuals who waste food, and enhances awareness of the importance of Balanced consumption and improved dietary behaviours.

Ayesh stresses the importance of awareness through community initiatives, the necessity of understanding the quantities consumed and their diversity and working to improve the quality of food and provide it sustainably throughout the year.

Initiatives to reduce food waste.

In order to enhance community awareness efforts to reduce food waste, especially during the month of Ramadan, many volunteer events and campaigns are active to raise awareness of the importance of avoiding excess food waste and distributing the surplus to needy families, in addition to targeting the poorest areas in the Kingdom in cooperation with the relevant charities.

To support these initiatives, the Ministry of Agriculture launched a national awareness campaign to guide behavior to reduce food waste. The campaign includes a clear action plan that includes many activities, such as launching the creative training program to challenge food waste, empowering food waste management initiatives, and launching the national awareness campaign to guide behaviour to reduce food waste.

The Ministry of Agriculture calls for not purchasing food items in excess of the actual needs of citizens, in order to reduce excess spending and avoid high prices, stressing the importance of cooperating with awareness and guidance campaigns that support combating food waste and improving environmental awareness.

The figures show that the percentage of spending on food in Jordan has increased by rates ranging between 20% and 30%, as a result of the rise in the prices of local food commodities, due to Jordan’s dependence on foodstuffs imported from abroad by 85%.

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