FAO for transforming local Agri-Food system to reduce hidden cost

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FAO for transforming local Agri-Food system to reduce hidden cost

ISLAMABAD, NOV 14 (DNA) — United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), on Tuesday recommended for transforming the local agri-food system in order to reduce the its hidden cost to ensure quality nutrient-filled food for everyone.

Addressing the launching ceremony of FAO report on the 2023 edition of The State of Food and Agriculture (SOFA), Country Representative Ms Florence Rolle said that per capita food consumption in Pakistan was estimated at 1$ per day, which was costlier and consuming more resources.

She said that despite an agrarian economy Pakistan was still importing food commodities worth $9 billion per-annum. FAO was striving hard to reduce hidden costs of food with the collaboration of different stakeholders and bringing efficiencies to reduce costs of production, said Assistant FAO Representative (Programme) Dr. Amer Irshad.

Meanwhile, the FAO unveiled the staggering hidden costs of current agri-food systems, reaching an alarming $10 trillion annually, nearly 10% of the world’s GDP. This revelation comes from a comprehensive study covering 154 countries, shedding light on the multifaceted impact of hidden costs on health, the environment, and society.

The 2023 edition of The State of Food and Agriculture (SOFA) points out that over 70% of these hidden costs stem from unhealthy diets prevalent in high- and upper-middle-income countries, contributing to obesity, non-communicable diseases, and substantial labour productivity losses.

A significant portion, one-fifth of the total costs, is environment-related, attributed to factors like greenhouse gas and nitrogen emissions, land-use change, and water use, posing a global challenge with underestimated scales due to data limitations.

Low-income countries bear a disproportionate burden, with hidden costs exceeding a quarter of their GDP, highlighting the severe impact on poverty and undernourishment.

For Pakistan, the total quantified hidden costs of the agri-food system amount to approximately $161.8 billion, constituting around 15% of the country’s GDP. These costs are categorized into environmental ($28.9 billion), social ($20.9 billion), and health ($112 billion) dimensions.

The report advocates for governments to utilize true cost accounting, emphasizing that addressing the climate crisis, poverty, inequality, and food security requires a transformative approach. It calls for innovative research, data investments, and capacity building to scale the application of true cost accounting transparently and consistently. — DNA