A recently released report by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations FAO says over 820 million people across the world are going hungry. It says, for decades, the world was making progress in the fight against hunger.
Now, the number of undernourished people is on the rise again. Unhealthy diets have now become a leading risk factor for disease and death worldwide. There is an urgent need to make healthy and sustainable diets affordable and accessible to everyone, the report said. It designated that 149 million children under five are stunted, while over 49 million are affected by wasting. Furthermore, the report specified that 670 plus million adults and 120 plus million children are obese, adding that 40 million children under five are overweight.
Unhealthy diets, combined with sedentary lifestyles, are the number one risk factor for disability and death from non-communicable diseases. It alleged different forms of malnutrition can co-exist within the same household and even the same individual during their lifetime and can be passed from one generation to the next. The report said people who experience moderate levels of food insecurity or worse, including those who do not have regular access to enough nutritious food, are at a greater risk of various forms of malnutrition.
It says malnutrition affects one in three people and van take the forms of vitamin and mineral deficiencies, stunting, wasting, and overweight and obesity. An unhealthy diet is the leading risk factor for deaths from non-communicable diseases, including heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers. The report indicated that health problems linked to obesity are costing national health budgets up to 2 trillion US Dollars per year.
Why is this happening? According to the report, in the recent decades, people have dramatically changed their diets and eating patterns as a result of globalization, urbanization and income growth. They have moved from seasonal, mainly plat-based and fibre-rich dishes to high calorie diets, which are high in refined starches, sugar, and fats, salt, processed foods, are often marked by excessive consumption of meat.
People spend less time preparing meals at home, and consumers, especially in urban areas, increasingly rely on supermarkets, fast food outlets, street food vendors and tae-away restaurants. In much of the world, the report stressed that guaranteeing availability and access to healthy diets remains an enormous challenge. This can be true of people with limited financial resources, including smallholder agricultural producers and families in crisis situations caused by conflict, natural disasters and the impact of climate change. Some people, due to where they live, do not even have the option to purchase fresh and nutritious food.
It however highlighted that the way of producing, supplying and consuming food has to change. From the farm to the plate, it said food systems currently favour production of high-yielding staple crops. In addition to the impact of diets, intensified food production, combined with climate change, is causing a rapid loss of biodiversity. Today, only nine plant species account for 66 per cent of total crop production despite the fact that, throughout history, more than 6 thousand species have been cultivated for food. The world currently rely on only three crops, wheat, maize and rice, to provide nearly 50 per cent of the global dietary energy supply. A diverse variety of foods is crucial for providing healthy diets and safeguarding the environment, the report said
There are many ways in which governments can help to reduce hunger, improve nutrition and transform food system by addressing the root causes of malnutrition in all its forms, the report indicated. Government should increase the availability and affordability of diverse and nutritious foods for healthy diets by setting, enforcing and regularly updating national dietary guidelines and nutrition standards.
Design and implement nutrition-sensitive policies and programmes in line with national guidelines, as well as strengthening legal frameworks and strategic capacities to support this. It noted that work across sectors to improve food and agricultural policies, including those which support school food and nutrition programmes, food assistance to vulnerable families and individuals, public food procurement standards and regulations on food marketing, labelling and advertising.
Governments should enable consumers to make healthier food choices through mass-media, public awareness campaigns, nutrition-education programmes, community interventions and nutrition labelling. The report underlined that there is need to support solutions rooted in food production to reduce malnutrition, increase dietary diversity and improve nutrition for a healthier and sustainable future.
Meanwhile, globally, around 14% of food produced is lost from the post-harvest stage. Reducing food loss and waste is widely seen as an important way to reduce production costs and increase the efficiency of the food system, improve food security and nutrition, and contribute towards environmental sustainability. Growing attention to food loss and waste is reflected in the Sustainable Development Goals SDGs. SDG target 12.3 calls for halving per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reducing food loss along production and supply chains by 2030.
Reducing food loss and waste also has the potential to contribute to other SDGs, including zero hunger goals, which call for an end of hunger, the achievement of food security and improved nutrition, and the promotion of sustainable agriculture. The expected positive environmental impacts from reducing food loss and waste would also affect, among other things sustainable water management, climate change, marine resources, terrestrial ecosystems, forestry, biodiversity and many other SDGs.
While the reduction of food loss and waste appears as a clear and desirable objective, actual implementation is not simple and its complete elimination not be realistic. This report acknowledges the need to reduce food loss and waste, presents new insights on what is known and what is not, and provides guidance on how to target interventions and policies depending on policymaker’s objectives and the information available.
Deciding on concrete actions, interventions or policies to reduce food loss and waste requires answers to a number of questions: In which locations and stages of the supply chain is food lost or wasted and to what extent? Why does food loss and waste occur? How can it be reduced? What are the costs involved? And, ultimately, who benefits from reducing food loss and waste, and who loses?
Responding to all these questions will require access to proper information. When considering actions and policy options, the report argues that food loss and waste reduction should be seen as a way to achieve other objectives; notably improved efficiency in the food system, improved food security and nutrition, and improved environmental sustainability. How policymakers prioritize these different dimensions, and the information available on how food loss and waste affects them, will shape the most appropriate mix of interventions and policies to reduce food loss and waste.
According to the report, the notion of food being lost and wasted is deceptively simple, but in practice there is no commonly agreed definition of food loss and waste. The various definitions often reflect the different problems that stakeholders or analysts focus on or associate with food loss and waste. Consequently, analysis of food loss and waste is hampered by this lack of definition. FAO has worked towards the harmonization of concepts related to food loss and waste, and the definitions adopted in this report are the results of consensus reached in consultations with experts in this field.
To gain further insight into location and extent of food loss and waste, FAO has also conducted a meta-analysis of existing studies that measure food loss and waste in countries all over the world. It illustrates how food loss and waste various across stages in the food supply chain, as well as between regions and commodity groups. The meta-analysis finds a wide range of values for percentage losses at each stage in the food supply chain.
This highlights the need to measure losses carefully for specific value chains to identify concretely where significant losses occur, so as to better understand where to intervene. Generally, levels of loss are higher for fruits and vegetables than for cereals and pulses. However, even for the latter, significant levels are found in sub-Saharan Africa and Eastern and South-Eastern Asia, while they are limited in Central and Southern Asia. Studies on waste at the consumer stage are confined to high-income countries; they indicate that waste levels are high for all types of food, but particularly for highly perishable foods such as animal products and fruits and vegetables.
Cause of food loss and waste differ widely along the food supply chain, according to the report. Important causes of on-farm losses include inadequate harvesting time, climatic conditions, practices applied at harvest and handling, and challenges in marketing produce. Significant losses are caused by inadequate storage conditions as well as decisions made at earlier stages of the supply chain, which predispose products to a shorter shelf life. Adequate cold storage, in particular, can be crucial to prevent quantitative and qualitative food losses.
During transportation, good physical infrastructure and efficient trade logistics are of key importance to prevent food losses. The report indicated that processing and packaging can play a role in preserving foods, but losses can be caused by inadequate facilities as well as technical malfunction or human error. According to the FAO report, the causes of food waste at the retail level are linked to the limited shelf life, the need for food products to meet aesthetic standards in terms of colour, shape and size, and variability in demand. Consumer waste is often caused by poor purchase and meal planning, excuse buying, confusion over labels and poor –n-home storing.
The report stressed that the broader case for reducing food loss and waste looks beyond the business case to include gains that society can reap but which individual actors may not take into account. It noted that there are three main types of societal gains which justify interventions to reduce food loss and waste beyond the pure business cases, namely; increased productivity and economic growth, improved food security and nutrition as well as mitigation of environmental impacts and wasting food, in particular in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions as well as lowering pressure on land and water resources.
The last two societal gains, the report said are typically seen as externalities of reducing food loss and waste. It underlined that each of the three societal gains being pursued has specific characteristics that can provide insights on the most appropriate types of interventions. Further, the report highlighted that food loss and waste has the potential effects on food security and nutrition through changes in the four dimensions of food security: food availability, access, utilization and stability.
However, the links between food loss and waste reduction and food security are complex, and positive outcomes are not always certain. Reaching acceptable levels of food security and nutrition inevitably implies certain levels of food loss and waste. The report communicated that maintaining buffers to ensure food stability requires a certain amount of food to be lost or wasted. At the same time, ensuring food safety involves discarding unsafe food, which then gets counted as lost or wasted, while higher-quality diets tend to include more highly perishable foods.
It also conveyed that the impact of a reduction in food loss and waste will go beyond the immediate location of the reduction as the effects ripple through the supply chain- leading to lower prices- and more broadly through the economy. However, the exact impact will depend on how closely markets are integrated and how effectively price changes are transmitted. A key factor, according to the report is distance or proximity to the location of the reduction.
Reducing on-farm losses on small farms in lower-income countries may have a strong local food security impact. On the other hand, reducing food waste among consumers in high-income countries is unlikely to have the positive food security effects generally expected. The increased availability of food locally in these settings does not mean that these surpluses are available for poor and food-insecure people in a distant country with high levels of food insecurity.
The prevalence of food security, according to the report, can be relevant for determining food loss and waste reduction strategies for a given country’s food security challenges. In lower-income countries, where food security is often severe, increasing access to food is critical, and access itself is likely to be closely associated with availability. Preventing food losses at the local level in smallholder production can both alleviate food shortages and increase farmer’s incomes, thus improving access. It was said that if reductions in losses are large enough to affect prices beyond the local area, the urban food insecure could also benefit.
At the other extreme, in high-income countries, the problem of access is relevant for a much smaller share of the population; for many, the priority is nutrition and quality of diet. A broad campaign to reduce food waste is unlikely to benefit the small proportion of people facing food insecurity in high-income countries. For these countries, more targeted interventions, such as food redistribution, can contribute to access to food; however, eliminating remaining levels of food insecurity will also have to rely on a broader set of social policies.
Stanbic Bank Botswana Quarterly Economic Review indicates that Botswana will fail to meet some of its Vision 2036 targets, particularly unemployment reduction and reaching high-income status.
The report says this is mainly due to the slow economic growth that the country is currently experiencing. This Quarterly Economic Review focuses on the 2020 Budget Speech.
The first paper reviews the entire budget with its key observations being that this budget is prepared as prescribed by the Public Finance Management Act; the priorities it seeks to address are drawn from Vision 2036 and the eleventh
The 2020 budget Speech, which was the maiden speech by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Dr. Thapelo Matsheka, and the first after the 2019 general elections, was delivered to Parliament on the 4th of February 2020.
It has been well received by the labour unions, business community, and the public at large as well as international organisations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
It mainly derived its support from key facets including, emphasis on changing the business-as-usual approach to development; outlining the transformation agenda; fiscal reform that minimizes the negative impact on economic development and human welfare, competiveness and the decision to implement the 2019 negotiated and agreed public sector.
The budget’s progress review shows that economic growth was consistent with the NDP 11 projections, with growth of around 4 percent. At this growth rate, the country would neither ascend to a high-income status nor reduce unemployment towards the Vision 2036 target of a single digit.
Simple calculations of this review confirm that the economy will need to grow the Vision 2036’s target of 6 percent over the next 16 years for per capita income to increase from around USD 8,000.00 to above USD 12,000.00 in current prices.
Further, the population is anticipated to grow by only 2 percent per annum.
For this reason, the focal areas for the forthcoming FY’s budget include measures to increase economic growth towards an average of 6 percent per annum.
Economic diversification is reportedly progressing fairly well. The report says, the share of the non-mining private sector in value added has risen to 66 percent in 2018 from to 63 percent in 2015.
The sectoral pattern of growth showed that the performance of services sector (particularly transport & communications, trade, hotels & restaurants, and finance & business services) has been the silver lining and that of mining sector was subdued whilst the utility sector disappointed.
The drive towards the service sector of the economy, especially to low-productivity activities (tourism, public administration, wholesaling and retailing) does not bode well for the country’s development aspirations.
In the previous versions of this Quarterly Review, it was noted that there is need for the rethinking of economic diversification. Since the country’s domestic market is small, it is inevitable that economic diversification not only focus on broadening the product mix, but also the composition of exports and markets.
This understanding of economic diversification has not been embraced by this year’s budget. Consequently, Botswana’s exports are still overwhelmingly diamonds, which means that the rest of economic sectors are still highly dependent on foreign-exchange earnings from diamonds. Thus, “the transformation programme requires a review of the country’s entire ecosystem”.
The budget review of the economic context also depicts that an economy with positive medium-term prospects, with growth expected to recover to 4.4 percent in 2020 from the expected growth of 36 percent in 2019 largely due to faster growth of services sectors and, thereafter, to slow-down to 4 percent in 2021.
These projected growth rates are comparable to those of the IMF staff’s baseline scenario of 4.2 percent in 2020 and 4 percent in 2021. Thus, the business-as-usual scenario produces growth rates that are still too low to achieve Botswana’s development objectives and create enough jobs to absorb the new entrants into the labour market.
Trade tensions between the two major markets for diamond exports, viz., the United States of America and China, is one of the factors that are cited as contributing to, indeed, undermining not only the domestic growth, but also the fiscal position.
Another notable downside risk to both global and domestic growth is outbreak of the coronavirus in China around January 2020. This has been declared as a global health emergency. In an attempt to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus pneumonia, the Chinese authorities have ordered city lockdowns and extended holidays, of course, at the expense of near- term economic growth, according to the new Stanbic Bank Botswana report.
According to Nomura Holdings Inc., fewer migrant workers returned for work than in previous years and business activities have been slow to pick up. The havoc wreaked by the virus on the world’s second largest economy is likely to spill over to the global economy. In fact, it has resulted in a glut in crude oil and, thereby placed oil markets into a contango, i.e., a market structure where near-term prices trade at a discount to future contracts.
It also presents significant risks one of Botswana’s main drivers of economic growth, diversification and foreign exchange earnings. According to the Financial Times (February 13, 2020), Chinese tourists spent $130 billion overseas in 2018. Regardless of whether the growth materializes, the projected domestic growth rate would not transform the economy to a high-income one.
Progress towards reduction of unemployment, to a target of single digit, and poverty and achieving inclusive growth has also been relatively slow, the Stanbic Bank Botswana Review says.
Ministry of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration (MOPAGPA) has through the Office of the President (OP) proposed to avail Orapa House for use by private training institutions as well as research institutions involved in the area of technology development.
For a very long time the monumental building located in the heart of the city has been a white elephant, despite government purchasing it for nearly P80 million from De Beers in 2012.
However, government has now identified a productive use for the iconic building. “The overall vision is for the building to be transformed into a hub for digital technology research and development to be carried-out by institutions, such as; Limkokwing University, BIUST, BITRI and other relevant stakeholders.”
The decision was taken as government traverse a new path of transforming the economy from a mineral led economy to a knowledge based economy through the promotion of research and innovation. However, the facility will need major maintenance to be carried-out in order to meet the requirements of the proposed change in use.
“The work will include provision of laboratories, work stations, production areas and seminar rooms; audio visual centre, high speed internet connectivity, exhibition areas and offices,” reads the proposal note for the development.
These developments will be done through the refurbishment and maintenance of the main building, workshop, and ablution block, gate house, parking area, grounds, and access control and security service.
“There will be minimal modifications to the structure as it stands. The project is estimated to cost approximately P50, 000, 000,” says the report. In this regard, it is said, the initial scope of the OP facility will be modified to accommodate the envisaged digital technology research and development hub.
With funds needed to improve the building, OP has requested that; “the 2020/21 annual budget provision for Orapa House will need to be increased by P37,500,000 from P2,500,000 to P40,000,000 to kick start the maintenance works.” Funds will be sourced from the projects that have been delayed due to Covid-19 protocols during the 2020/21 financial year.
The building has been a thorny issue for government for years. Initially, OP was expected to move there but the move never materialised. At one point it was a question of whether the Office of the President and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development were planning to override a decision by Parliament which rejected the proposal to buy Orapa House under the belief that government may be buying its own property. The building was to be bought at a negotiated cost of P79 million.
Again in 2012, Government had wanted to buy Orapa House for a negotiated P79m but the Finance and Estimates Committee of Parliament had rejected the request because of the inconsistencies realised in the supporting documents of the proposed procurement. The valuation of the building was put at P74 million.
The Ministry of Lands and Housing had initially offered De Beers P73, 000,000 as the purchase price. However, De Beers countered with P85, 000,000. On negotiation and converging of the minds, the selling price was finally agreed at P79, 000,000.
Auditor General, Pulane Letebele, has expressed discontentment at the worrying and deteriorating state of brigades in the country.
In an audit inspection which was carried out at Tshwaragano Brigade in Gabane, a number of observations showed weaknesses and shortcomings in the conduct of the financial affairs of the institution.
According to Letebele’s report, former students of the brigade had been engaged to carry out maintenance works on the school premises, comprising of painting, tiling, plumbing and electrical works, which covered the period from July 2017 to June 2018.
Although the agreed maintenance period had elapsed, the works had not been completed because of unavailability of funds and this situation had persisted up till the time of inspection in November 2019.
Auditor General says arrangements should have been made in time for funds to be available to complete these relatively minor works even before the works commenced.
Various contractors had been engaged for clearing the bush and for the supply of concrete stones, pit and river sand and hiring equipment for digging the trench towards the construction of an auto mechanics workshop, the report said.
It stated that the cost of services and supplies provided totalled P117 949.80. However, despite the services and the supplies having been paid for, the construction works had not commenced for a long period afterwards, resulting in the trench filling back in.
The audit inquiries had not elicited satisfactory responses as both the institution and the Ministry had not accepted the responsibility for the project, although orders for the provision for the supplies had been made. For their part, the Ministry had stated that they had sub warranted funds for the purchase of porta cabins.
Letebele indicated that it is therefore confusing that a project which is critical to the functioning of an institution such as this one would commence without a well-defined plan.
Furthermore, the accounting and maintenance of records for the supplies items were not of the standard prescribed by the Supplies Regulations and Procedures in that the supplies ledger cards, the main accounting records for Government assets, were not properly maintained for the recording of receipts and issues.
This had resulted in significant discrepancies between physical and ledger balances, while in other instances the supplies items had not been recorded at all.
The report says 24 of the 91 new computers found in the computer laboratory at Kumakwane ABC campus were not recorded anywhere, as were the other computers in the storeroom which could not be counted due to the disorderly storage conditions.
The institution had entered into a contract agreement with a security company for the provision of security services at Tshwaragano Brigade, ABC and Horticulture campuses at Kumakwane for a 2-year period which ended in June 2018, WeekendPost learnt.
After the contract expired in June 2018, an extension was granted till the 30th September 2018. Since then, there has been no security service coverage for the institution to-date. According to Auditor General, in the face of prevailing crimes, it is of paramount importance that government properties be protected by provision of security services at all times.
At Tlokweng Brigade, it was noted that the kitchen staff were working under difficult conditions as the kitchen facilities and equipment, such as the cold room, tilting pot, food warmers and solar power for hot water were dysfunctional. The kitchen roof was leaking and men’s restrooms was not working. All these need to be brought to a reasonable and functional state of repair.
The kitchen staff should use a purpose-designed Rations Ledger for the recording of receipts and issues of foodstuffs to reflect the usage of those items. As far back as 2014 the Department of Buildings and Engineering Services had found that the house occupied by the bursar was uninhabitable on account of structural defects, the report said.
A site visit during the audit had established that the house was indeed unfit for occupation as there were cracks on the walls, power switches were not working and the roof was leaking. On a sadder note, there were a number of finished items of clothing, such as dresses, shirts, and jackets from students’ practical exercises from the Fashion Design Textiles Workshop.
Auditor General shared her take on this, saying: “I have not been able to ascertain the policy on the disposal of products from these practicals. A trace of 103 green acid-proof overalls which had been purchased in August 2018 had indicated that there was no record of these items having been recorded or issued, nor were they available in stock. I was not able to obtain any explanation for this situation.”
Kgatleng brigade was also audited and inspected by Auditor General who observed that the brigade has 26 institutional houses at Bokaa, both old campus and new campus. Some of these houses are very old and dilapidated, with two declared uninhabitable. The condition of the houses is a clear indication of lack of care and maintenance of these properties.
At the time of the audit, there was no contractor engaged for the provision of security guard services at the new campus, after expiry of the previous one in July 2019. It is hoped that steps would be taken to safeguard the security of the premises and government properties against any acts of hooliganism.
In August 2019, there was a break-in at the electrical and at the plumbing maintenance workshops and a number of high value items, such as drilling machines, bolt cutters, spanners and cables, were stolen. The break-in and theft were reported to the police.
“However, at the time of writing this report I was not aware of the outcome of the police investigation, nor of any loss report submitted in terms of the Supplies Regulations and Procedures,” Letebele said.