Food Waste Around the World, Episode 50: Ghana

Food Waste Around the World is a Food Circle project to provide information and raise awareness about food waste. The project is designed as a series of interviews with students from different countries to understand 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 globe, creating a uniquely multicultural environment.

Today we're speaking with Precious from Ghana




But first, let's add some context


As part of the United Nations initiative to ensure sustainable future, 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were launched in Ghana in 2016 [1]. These aims are part of the Agenda 2030 programme, including sustainability goals for climate action, responsible consumption and production, and restoration of life on land. Each of these goals consists of more detailed targets, for example, conservation of inland, mountain and freshwater ecosystems, raising awareness of and creating policies for climate change measures, promoting sustainable practices to companies and halve per capita food waste, to name a few.


A 2019 report estimated that Ghana is on its way to achieving their SDG targets by the set date [2]. While many significant and major challenges remain in multiple sustainable goal categories, Ghana has been able to achieve Responsible Consumption and Production SDG and is positively on track with Climate Action goal. However, statistics show that Life on Land SDG progress is in decline and facing difficulties, mostly due to permanent deforestation and land deterioration.


 


Hello, Precious! Thank you for participating! First thing's first, could you please briefly introduce yourself?


I am Precious Nutifafa, from Ghana. I live in Accra, Ghana. I was raised in a little town named Saviefe Agokpo, where people firmly believe that humans must coexist with nature. This community inspired me to seek sustainability both as a career and lifestyle.


I’m a Savannah College of Arts and Design graduate student majoring in Design for Sustainability. My life goals include pursuing a career in resource-constrained situations through whole-systems thinking and collaboration.


Can you help give some background about the attitude to food waste and sustainability in Ghana?


When it comes to sustainability in general, Ghana is still a work in progress. The issue with sustainability in Ghana is a lack of understanding of the environmental impact of our lifestyle, choices and activities. Sanitation is a major issue in Ghana, the linear economy is the norm, and the domain of action toward a better future appears out of reach if we consider people's attitudes. Food waste at the consumer level is very low in Ghana due to the country's high standard of living, which could be considered a blessing in disguise. Furthermore, it is common in our culture to share our excess, which I believe helps a lot to control the amount of food that goes to waste. According to reports, we lose 20 to 30 percent of cereals and legumes, and 20 to 50 percent of roots, tubers, fruits, and vegetables in storage, during transportation, or at the market, with less lost at the consumer stage.


In your opinion, what challenges does Ghana face concerning the country’s sustainable development targets?


Despite its commitment, Ghana continues to have poor environmental and human health, poverty, poor sanitation, limited access to potable drinking water, energy, and rapid population growth.


There has been little progress toward environmental sustainability. Ghana's poor environmental health is a clear indication that the country's current policies and laws are incapable of effectively redirecting the country's growth path toward the SDGs. Ghana's environmental situation remains characterised by high rates of deforestation, land degradation, desertification, soil erosion, water body contamination, and the intensification of unsustainable agricultural methods. The remaining closed forests in the country are disappearing at an alarming rate. In short, the main issue in Ghana is how to implement the targets and make them actionable.


What can we learn from the Ghanaian people? Could you please tell us about their values, habits, or recipes that we could adopt and learn from to reduce food waste?


I find our culture of giving out excess rather than hoarding or trashing to be endearing and worthy of emulation. I could brag about our ability to repurpose meals and fruits and vegetables, which keeps them from landfills. One thing I am proud of is Ghana's food positivity. Ghanaians rarely reject vegetables because of their cosmetic state or shape, and I believe this is one factor that has kept food out of the trash.


Do you know of any significant organizations that are tackling food waste?


There are only a few food waste organizations. Most people, including myself, are only aware of the Chef for Change Ghana Foundation and Food For All Ghana.


Based on what we talked about reducing food waste, what’s the most frustrating thing to you about food waste?


Basically, how globally food waste can feed 2 billion hungry people. To put it simply, this highlights the inequity that exists in our world. I hold the controversial view that, among all of the problems that contribute to the climate disaster, changing how people behave in regard to food waste should be our world's top priority and easiest pursuit. Nonetheless, it is the most ignored.


Due to your perspective about reducing food waste worldwide, what do you recommend people do differently?


I believe that people should recognise how fortunate they are to have enough food to eat rather than waste. I say this to emphasise the importance of mindfulness and self-awareness in behaviour change.


Is there anything else you’d like to add?


First and foremost, I'd like to share my favourite mantra: "Leave the earth better than you found it!" Second, I believe that the power of society and culture is where change begins, and we must not underestimate our own effectiveness when we work together as a community to achieve cultural and institutional change.



Thank you so much for your time and participation!


This was a conversation with Precious from Food Circle team.



Interviewed: Precious Nutifafa

Interviewer and Writer: Liva Puka


 

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Download and use food waste apps

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References

  1. Sustainable Development Report - Ghana

  2. The Sustainable Development Goals - A Review of Ghana's Current State

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