HIVOS Southern Africa Sustainable Foods Regional Advocacy manager William Chilufya says food wastage in Zambia is higher compared to other sub-Saharan countries owing to the failure by the country to embrace value-addition initiatives.

Chilufya said without equipment to preserve food and add value, it would be difficult for the country to be significantly food secure.

“Food waste is a big problem all over, but it is worse in Zambia! This problem is quite huge in this country and it’s at two levels. First of all, it’s at a level where the food is produced and harvested. And then the second level is when the food is prepared now and it’s about to be consumed. So, in terms of the food that is produced, you find that during the harvest process, maybe the maize, it could be millet; it could be whatever you can think of in terms of crops. There are potential huge loses in the process about a quarter of that is lost, which is a huge loss, you know, because we don’t have certain mechanisms that should be put in place to ensure that we reduce some of these wastes,” Chilufya told News Diggers! in an interview in Lusaka.

“Then secondly, when you look at fish, the way it is when people go out and the fishermen bring this fish out, most of these sellers that we have around lakes or around rivers do not have refrigerating equipment to keep their fish. In the process, you find that most of it is just wasted. These are great losses, and this is why now, you see the women and men go round with just some ice blocks to refrigerate their fish. But just that is not enough and instead of that food being preserved and consumed, we are just losing it. And this is why HIVOS, for instance, we have been suggesting that if we need to ensure that we reach proper food security then we also need to go around to preserve this food with different techniques that would ensure that this food is preserved.”

He wondered why majority of Zambians cook more food than they can eat and end up wasting.

“Now, when you come to the food that is cooked and eaten; so you look at the amount of rubbish that goes to Chunga dump site, most of it is food. So, people cooked enough food, but they failed to eat the food and at times they prepare more than enough, and they don’t eat. So, it’s important that Zambians also become very responsible that you prepare the food that you are going to ensure that you will eat and finish other than just wasting. Otherwise, waste management in this country is a time bomb. The problem is that as a country we [have] not yet improved on the mechanism to turn this waste into subsequent products such as manure,” explained Chilufya.

“Others, what they are doing is that, they are using some of this waste, like food waste, to turn into compost manure and grow crops out of that. But in this country, that is not happening. We need to ensure that we start processing our waste. In other countries, they are really making a lot of issues out of the food waste, but here in this country, it’s not happening. We are wasting a lot of food because sometimes you can leave your food not eaten and it becomes wasted, but also what’s worse is that you do not use that waste into something else. We are buying fertiliser all over so why can’t we use our manure, organic manure from wastes?” he wondered.