On July 15, CSAM co-hosted a webinar on "Reducing Food Loss and Waste in China: Towards Sustainable Food Systems Transformation" together with the China Offices of FAO, IFAD and WFP. The event was organized as an independent dialogue session of the upcoming Food Systems Summit.
The event was opened by the remarks of Prof. Nie Fengying from the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, who is also a member of the Food Systems Summit Advisory Committee. She summarized China’s achievements in reducing food loss and waste, and introduced China’s preparations for the Food Systems Summit. The UN Resident Coordinator in China, Mr. Siddharth Chatterjee, illustrated the cooperation between the United Nations entities and their Chinese counterparts on sustainable food systems; followed by Ms. Rosa Rolle, Senior Enterprise Development Officer of FAO, who introduced the Food Systems Summit and its role in reducing food loss and waste.
After the opening session, representatives from United Nations agencies, Chinese government departments, development banks, private sector, academia, farmers’ cooperatives and scientific research institutions discussed in three sessions around the topics of "reducing food loss in production and processing", "reducing food loss and waste in supply chains", and "financial innovations and incentives to reduce food loss and waste”.
The first dialogue on "Reducing Food Loss in Production and Processing" was moderated by Dr Li Yutong, Head of CSAM.
Participants pointed out that although natural disasters and disease infections can cause food loss, considerable food losses occur during mechanical operations on family farms. It was highlighted that, in the production and processing phases, the cultivation and promotion of appropriate crops suitable for mechanized harvesting, the strict implementation of standards, mechanized harvesting technology and operation specifications, as well as strengthening the professional qualification management and training of agricultural machinery operators, and encouraging farmland merger, grain green storage technology, energy efficient drying technology, regional grain logistics management, and other measures can effectively reduce grain loss. China has gradually established a relatively comprehensive system of laws and regulations in terms of grain loss, combined with awareness raising activities to ensure the effectiveness and implementation of policies related to food loss reduction.
The dialogue on "Reducing Food Loss and Waste in Supply Chains" was moderated by Dr Qu Sixi, WFP Country Director.
The speakers at this session pointed out that in supply chains, food loss and waste can be reduced in the following ways: (i) protect arable land resources to build tangible fertile fields, improve grain reduction technology to cultivate carbon "zero sum" grain fields, and gradually establish a sustainable food supply that meets the standards of "resource conservation, reduced investment, environmental protection, ecology, high-quality food, and healthy nutrition" chain; (ii) leverage information and communication technology and comprehensively use digital means such as cloud computing, cloud services, big data, and the internet of things to provide services for the entire food industry chain; (iii) reduce the intermediaries linking farmers to markers taking advantage of e-commerce platforms and optimizing domestic transportation and distribution chain; and (iv) simplify the international customs clearance procedures for agricultural products, and carry out research on location economics related to grain loss at ports to build a more efficient customs clearance management mechanism and reduce food losses in international trade.
The final dialogue on "Financial Innovations and Incentives to Reduce Food Loss and Waste" was moderated by Mr. Matteo Marchisio, IFAD Country Director and Representative to China.
The panellists pointed out that financial innovation should serve the real economy, so it is necessary to incubate suitable financial policies and products to serve technological progress and business model innovation in the whole process of food production and marketing. For instance, using digital platforms to help agricultural product sales, information and efficient distribution; establishing "grain banks" to promote the tripartite cooperation between farmers, grain consumers, and the government; relaxing the financing review of grain loss reduction technologies; and supporting the financing and subsidizing of agricultural machinery.
Closing remarks were delivered by Ms. Katinka Weinberger, Chief of the Environment and Development Policy Section of ESCAP; Mr. Nigel Brett, Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, IFAD Programme Management Department; and Mr. Zhao Bing, Director of Food Systems and Smallholder Support at WFP and former Head of CSAM. The closing session highlighted the timeliness and significance of reducing food loss and waste in China and the Asia-Pacific region in order to achieve food security and improve the availability of nutritious food. Reducing food loss and waste involves action at all phases of production, processing, storage, and distribution, as well as consumption. The convergence and cooperation of logistics, consumer use, technological innovation, financial innovation and other sectors requires the concerted efforts of international institutions, scientific research institutions, government departments, farmers and the private sector to coordinate planning and governance. China has the technology and scale to make a regional and global impact in efforts to reduce food loss and waste. Sharing China's experience at the upcoming Food Systems Summit will be beneficial for many other countries and the UN System will continue to support China in achieving its food security goals, and all related goals in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.