Change cultural habit to curb food wastage, says expert

June 04, 2017

A major concern particularly in the Middle East is rise in food wastage as a result of luxurious banquets and elaborate iftars during the holy month. Food wastage in Oman increases from 35 per cent to 50 per cent approximately during Ramadan, said an expert.

According to Professor Ghassan al Kindi, mechanical engineering and director of Research and Industry Collaboration at the Sohar University, the trend is a consequence of a cultural habit that believes in preparing more food than required.

Prof Kindi who has been working closely with the University of Sheffield on a food security project said, “Unfortunately, the food wastage is a long-time problem in Oman and the region. People in the region believe that offering food in large quantity is part of traditional Arabic hospitality. But, this is a completely wrong practice.”

He added that the figures in this regard are really shocking. “In Oman, we waste approximately 35 per cent of food considering that only 25 per cent of food is produced in Oman whereas 75 per cent is imported. The case is worse during Ramadan.”

The only solution is change in habits, said Prof Kindi. “An adult consumes 800-1,000kg of food per year and in Oman more than 1mn tonnes of food is wasted every year. This includes vegetables, fruits, cooked food, and dairy products. The only way out is to bring about a change in our attitude towards handling food. This is possible only through awareness campaigns that discourage people from wasting food. This is a collective responsibility of all authorities, civil organisations, volunteer groups, schools, academia, and the media.”

Prof Kindi is working on innovative methods that can be used in agriculture that can significantly reduce fresh water consumption. “We are collaborating with the University of Sheffield on technological and business potentials for a sustainable, resource-efficient ‘soil-less agriculture sector’. This could benefit both the Omani environment and market conditions.”