Halt this waste | Daily News

Halt this waste

During a recent TV talk show it was revealed that as much one third of the food we consume was going waste daily and that 10 million people could be fed for a year from the food being discarded. This indeed a cause for grave concern, especially in the face of a looming food shortage as forecast by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. He said food security should be given the utmost priority under the circumstances. The Premier also said that very soon people will have to settle for two square meals a day. In any case, most people today have only one meal a day due to the prohibitive cost of all food items. Most people in fuel and gas queues go without food in their bid to obtain fuel and make their living.

This criminal waste of food is taking place at a time people in far flung villages are unable to afford even a single square meal a day with television daily spotlighting the plight of these souls with emaciated children in the background - victims of chronic malnutrition. The crisis created by the fertilizer fiasco has added to their misery.

Hotels and eateries serve food in excess to customers most of which invariably end up in the garbage bins and go to feed animals. Big time hotels too are guilty of monumental waste of food. Even Parliament has been accused of large scale food wastage. All such food could feed many mouths for months and maybe years.

Some form of control should be exercised to ensure food is not wasted in this manner. Hotels and eateries should be instructed to dish out small servings to customers in a bid to save food. On the other hand a scheme should be devised to penalize customers who throw away food. If such a system is applied not only could food waste be minimized but also the country's food resources could be preserved for lengthy periods, obviating the need for large-scale food imports. One recalls the time during the United Front Government under Premier Sirimavo Bandaranaike when hotels and eating houses were prohibited from serving rice on two specific days in the week. Although this was done to cut down on food imports and thus save foreign exchange, it also went a long way towards controlling food waste. Very soon we too will have to adopt such measures in order to avert a food shortage.

It was also reported that child malnutrition had increased drastically in the midst of the present economic crisis and that children's homes too are affected in this regard with appeals going out to donors and philanthropists to reach out to these children by providing food supplies. Even Government hospitals have cut down on their menus with less items on the plates now than before. The plight of prisoners could only be imagined in this respect. The Government should embark on a positive programme to end malnutrition among our child population by seeking out those in want and providing them with adequate nourishment. The private sector too should assist in such a programme.

Meanwhile, the price of an ordinary lunch packet has been increased by 10 percent from Monday, with a chicken lunch packet now priced at Rs. 400. The increase has come in the wake of the new fuel price increase. In fact, all food and grocery items linked to transport have witnessed a steep rise in prices, sometimes disproportionate to actual fuel price hike. The Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) should get activated and prevent traders from exploiting the current situation. Prices are raised arbitrarily according to the whims and fancies of the traders. Sometimes the same item fetches a different price at two different nearby outlets. Price controls should be imposed on essential consumer items that have been removed from this restriction. Today traders are having a field day, taking advantage of the dire circumstances on the economic front. The rogue elements should be reined in and the public protected from their various machinations.

Answers should also be found to the soaring Cost of Living which keeps on climbing every day. Today people are at their wit’s end, not only the poor and the have-nots but also those with reasonable means, unable to cope with day-to-day challenges. A breaking point could be round the corner with the pressure brought on by the LP Gas and fuel shortage and the agony and trauma endured in the now ubiquitous queues. The Yahapalanya Government under former President Maithripala Sirisena appointed a Cost of Living Committee to seek out solutions in the face of hardships faced by the people due to the price increase of essentials. It is not known if this committee is still in existence. If not, such a mechanism should be put in place, especially in the face of runaway inflation which has held the people in its grip, choking out their lives.

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