A survey conducted in Morocco in 2015 shows that 88% of respondents throw away leftovers or food considered not good at least once per week.
According to studies, 84.8% of Moroccan households declare that food waste is higher during Ramadan, and 53.3% of Moroccan families throw away the equivalent of between USD 6 and USD 50 in food waste during the month.
The Moroccan government could subsidize bottom-up initiatives to reduce food waste, and start a national campaign to raise awareness and educate people about the importance of avoiding food waste.
By Sarah Hamidi, student at Geneva Graduate Institute
Ninety-one kilograms of food per person is wasted each year in Morocco while 31.6% of the Moroccan population still copes with food insecurity, and 12.9% of Moroccan children suffer from stunted growth. Nationwide, food waste has reached more than 3.3 million tons per year. Despite these alarming figures, food waste reduction does not appear to be a priority as much as waste management.
Morocco has stated its commitment to the SDGs, including SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production) and SDG target 12.3, which aims to, by 2030, “halve per capita global food waste at retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses.” Yet, food waste is inadequately addressed and is completely overlooked in its 2020 Voluntary National Review (VNR).
In this post, I advocate for a change of narrative that would consider food waste a national issue where measures such as subsidizing initiatives tackling food waste and starting a national campaign on the topic could be taken.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), food waste is “the decrease in the quantity or quality of food resulting from decisions and actions by retailers, food service providers and consumers.”
In Morocco, food waste is particularly important in times of Ramadan, the holy month in Islam, when people tend to buy and cook more food than they can eat. According to studies done by the International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies (CIHEAM) and FAO, 84.8% of Moroccan households declare that food waste is higher during this month, and 53.3% of Moroccan families throw away the equivalent of between USD 6 and USD 50 in food waste during Ramadan.
Outside of Ramadan, a survey conducted in Morocco in 2015 shows that 88% of respondents throw away leftovers or food considered not good at least once per week. According to the survey results, the main reason behind food waste is bad food management at home, with 67% of respondents indicating that food is wasted because it is left in the fridge for too long.
Production and distribution of alimentary products are land-, water-, and energy-consuming, with implications for several SDGs. Addressing food waste could thus deliver significant co-benefits across the Goals. World Wildlife Fund estimates that “about 6-8% of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced if we stop wasting food”. Overcoming food waste through redistribution could contribute to SDG 2 on achieving zero hunger and food security.
The Moroccan government could take several measures to address food waste. First, it could subsidize bottom-up initiatives to reduce food waste, such as the Moroccan startup Foodeals, which “aims to tackle food loss and waste in supermarkets and allows consumers to purchase unsold food from retailers at the end of the day at a discount via an app”. Subsidizing this type of initiatives could help expand them to all parts of the country and help sustainably manage food surplus. It would also help many Moroccan citizens who have limited means to purchase food. Morocco could also learn from initiatives elsewhere, such as Madame Frigo in Switzerland, which targets households by inviting them to donate the food they have in excess to a public fridge.
The Moroccan government could also start a national campaign to raise awareness and educate people about the importance of avoiding food waste. In Islam, food waste is not permitted, especially during Ramadan as this month is meant to elevate one’s spirituality, moderate one’s desires, and place oneself in the place of the poorest. Yet food is wasted, and the topic of food waste is considered taboo. Therefore, many citizens either do not pay attention to it or have limited knowledge of the impact it has on sustainable development. Raising awareness among citizens about the responsibility they have in reducing food waste and the positive impact they could bring about could help change people’s minds and habits around food and food waste and enable localized contributions to the SDGs on responsible consumption and hunger eradication.
This article is a result of the Spring 2022 class, ‘Law of Sustainable Development,’ Geneva Graduate Institute, taught by Dr. Charlotte Sieber-Gasser and Dr. Manuel Sanchez.