Food Waste Around the World, Episode 9: Uzbekistan
Food Waste Around the World is a Food Circle’s project aimed at providing information and raising awareness about food waste. The project is designed as a series of interviews with students coming from different countries with the aim of understanding how this issue is tackled and perceived around the world. This is made possible thanks to Sapient, the mother company of Food Circle, which every year offers internships to students from all around the world creating a unique multicultural environment.
Today we speak with Malika, from Uzbekistan!
“[...] the government will put much more effort into this issue later in the future. Because right now I know it’s not their priority. I hope that they will come up with world-wide solutions [...]”
Hello Malika, thank you for participating in the project ‘Food Waste Around the World'. It’s great to see you! To start, can you tell me a little bit about yourself and where are you from?
First off thank you for having me! I’m Malika Ashurova. I come from Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan. I’m currently doing my Bachelor’s Degree in Business Information Systems at Westminster International University in Tashkent. This year, I decided to fill my summer with adventure, while I gained real life work experience. I came across Sapients’ posts online and immediately decided to apply for the internship position. So here I am as a Graphic Designer in a wonderful team!
It’s our pleasure! You said you were from the beautiful country Uzbekistan. Can you tell us more about the food waste situation in your country?
In the most recent years, food waste has become a complex phenomenon attracting the attention of scientists, consumers, and activists alike. It’s been termed as a global paradox; where an emphasis is put on agriculture to improve food security, but a third of all the food products are wasted at the same time. But the issue of food waste in different countries varies. Since my childhood, I was told not to leave and waste food on the plate. My mom always told me to put as much food as I can eat to not waste anything. Fortunately, the percentage of food waste in our country is relatively small compared to other countries in Central Asia. I think the main reason is probably because of some of the rules regarding the sorting of trash. We separate the trash; plastic for special tabs, leftover food for special tabs, etc. Food leftovers will likely be sent to farms or lands where cattles are raised; that’s why food waste is probably much lower than in other countries.
That’s great to hear. You said the food waste situation is much less severe in Uzbekistan compared to other countries in Central Asia. How about the Netherlands? Do you notice any differences between the Netherlands and Uzbekistan?
I’ve never been to the Netherlands before.But last year I travelled to the United Arab Emirates and I saw a huge contrast between my country and Dubai regarding food waste. I was invited to a ceremony where they presented all kinds of different food, which was then placed directly in the trash without being touched or eaten by anyone. The plastics weren’t even separated from the food -just thrown straight into the trash. I was really shocked to experience this kind of behaviour. After that incident, I decided to research more information about UAE’s food waste and I found out that annual food waste is estimated at 197 kgs per person. It was a huge number compared to my country.
Thank you for speaking from your experience. Let’s go back to Uzbekistan: Who do you think is really driving the attention to the food waste issue?
I have searched a bit about this and found out that there were implemented small organizations like special communities. I want to highlight that these communities were awarded for “The Innovative Business Solutions” and I’m quite proud of them.
Thank you for the information! Is there any initiative or attention about the issue at the moment?
There was one rule about the prevention of food waste that caught my attention. There was a development of a know-how system by specialists that can diminish the percent of food waste in the near future. The main idea is that after the production of primary juice, fruit waste is pressed, purified, and soaked in a special solution. The mass is dried and finally crushed in a mill into a powder that can be used in food-concentrate and cannery industries. In addition to juice, including pulpy juice, the powder may serve as the basis for marmalade, fruit paste and various jams. It can also be used as a component of the formulation of bread, confectionary products, and candy paste. To the creators’ opinion, the powders-semi products are characterized by high nutrition and biological value - they are highly competitive with the powders produced on the basis of fresh raw materials.
It’s a great idea to find clever ways to use food that otherwise would be wasted. How about the government, do you think that your government is doing enough to reduce food waste?
Probably the government will put much more effort into this issue later in the future. Because right now I know it’s not their priority. I hope that they will come up with world-wide solutions because even though we have a low rate of food waste, the solutions should be implemented in a stronger manner. For instance, by requiring all edible food surplus to be offered to hungry people, and then to animals as feed. Educating customers about food waste and how to avoid it will lead to enormous changes in the country. Additionally, the idea of getting every point of the supply chain to report on – and reduce – food waste will have a great impact in reducing the percentage of food waste.
At last, what do you think could be the next efficient step to manage this issue properly?
I will say that organizations should take action and directly approach young people. As I know, us, young people, are raising the most awareness of this issue yet it remains little acknowledged by our people at the moment. So I suppose systems to prevent food waste should be invented as a nation.
Let’s hope for the best. Okay, that would be it. Thank you very much, Malika!
Interviewer: Ceyda Gezbic
Interviewed: Malika Ashurova
Editor and writer: Ceyda Gezbic