Agri-food sector stakeholders discuss best practices to tackle food waste

Stakeholders in Rwanda’s agri-food sector have concluded a three-day workshop aimed at addressing the challenge of food loss and waste. This issue poses a significant concern not only for Rwanda but also on a global scale, with approximately one-third of food produced worldwide being lost or wasted, amounting to about 1.3 billion tons annually. Alarmingly, more than 800 million people worldwide suffer from food insecurity, highlighting the urgent need to apply circular economy strategies to support the growing global population, projected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050.

In response to this pressing issue, the National Industrial Research Agency, in collaboration with the World Resources Institute (WRI) and other partners, launched the "Circular Food Systems for Rwanda" program. This initiative aims to transform Rwanda’s food system into a more sustainable and circular model, with a specific focus on assisting Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) operating in the food production value chain.

During the workshop held in Musanze from August 1st to 3rd, 2023, Project Manager Eric Ruzigamanzi emphasized the potential of today’s technology to prevent large quantities of food loss during the production process. Additionally, he highlighted the value in converting food waste into animal feed, fertilizers, and other products, which would not only reduce waste but also enhance SMEs’ productivity and create job opportunities.

Sylvie Mugabekazi, the Acting Chief Executive Officer of the organizing institution, the Cleaner Production and Climate Innovation Centre (CPCIC), stressed that the workshop serves as a platform to discuss the benefits, opportunities, and challenges associated with promoting circular economy practices in the food sector. Emphasizing the significance of knowledge and experience sharing, she underscored the key role of circularity in addressing persistent food-related issues and scaling up best practices.

Dr. Patrick Karangwa, the Director-General of Agriculture Modernization at the Ministry of Agriculture, emphasized the importance of reducing food loss at all production stages. By minimizing food loss and waste, not only can more people be fed, but it also contributes to efforts in mitigating climate change.

The Circular Food Systems for Rwanda program is a collaborative effort between national, regional, and global partners.

These partners include the National Industrial Research and Development Agency (NIRDA) through the Cleaner Production and Climate Innovation Centre (CPCIC) in Rwanda, the World Resources Institute (WRI), the Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy (PACE) Secretariat, Resonance, African Circular Economy Alliance (ACEA), African Circular Economy Network (ACEN), with support from the IKEA Foundation.