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Food wasted, food lost - Food security by restoring ecosystems and reducing food loss

Food security is critical for health, labour productivity, economic growth and sustainable development. Regional and local food insecurity, coupled with the need to develop innovative and sustainable solutions aimed at increasing food production, are some of the pressing challenges the world faces in securing the food demands of its population which is expected to grow to 9.6 billion by 2050. It is argued in this assessment that ecosystem degradation is a major cause of loss in potential food production, while human practices and consumer preferences, among other factors, are blamed not only for food loss but also food waste.

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Ensuring food security for a growing global population is not only about producing more food, but also about reducing the enormous amount of food that is either lost or wasted. Globally, one-third of all food produced is either lost or wasted. Ecosystem degradation is yet another form of food loss as it inhibits the ability of food producing ecosystems to provide optimal yields. Ecosystem degradation may alone account for the loss of food supply for up to 2.4 billion people by 2050. Salinization and soil erosion are already blamed for grain yield reductions that could have provided the annual calorie needs of 38 million people. The long-term solution for the increasing demand for food for a growing population lies in optimum food production through sustainable ecosystembased management practices and in strategies to reduce food waste and losses.