On Wednesday, August 17th 2022, Impact Hub Kigali in partnership with the United Nations World Food Programme hosted the IGNITE community of practice ‘Combating Food Waste’ event as part of the IGNITE Food Systems Challenge – a program supported by USAID’s Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance (BHA), and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Denmark. The event brought together various entities, institutions and entrepreneurs to discuss the challenges around Food Waste and the initiatives being carried out to combat and curb food wastage in the country.
Uwizeye Belange, Executive Director from Rwanda Rural Rehabilitation Initiative (RWARRI) and Moses Katala, Business Development Lead at MagoFarm were the main speakers of the event who spoke about the food waste issues from perspectives of public awareness and innovation. The event was moderated by Sandra Akariza, Program Manager at Impact Hub Kigali.
“The highest level of food waste occurs at the household level” said Belange, based on a study conducted by the city of Kigali and FAO. To ensure that wastage is reduced at the household level, there are initiatives in the country that aim at bringing more awareness on how to prevent food wastage from the household level by sharing best practices through various campaigns. One such initiative is the ‘Capacity Building of Kigali City on Food Waste Reduction and Management’ initiative where RWARRI organized and trained a joint Task Force of major actors in food systems in food waste reduction and management.
In regards to the food that is already wasted, challenges still persist. One of the biggest challenges entrepreneurs or startups like MagoFarm still face in this space is the logistics involved in transporting the waste to their processing facilities. A significant amount of food waste is instead disposed of in dump sites which notably hinders how much of the waste can be reached and processed for the good of the environment. Despite the challenges, there are opportunities to transform transportation systems and turn waste into ‘gold’. Belange highlighted the logistics challenge as an investment opportunity in that the current technology used in the transportation of waste to landfills and conversion points can be improved for better management and efficiency.
Participants at the event also chimed into the discussions to understand trends around turning waste into value and they learned some tips on how waste can be valorised by composting food scraps into soil nutrients. Discussions also highlighted the role of government regulations and policies in food waste management and the challenges that exist in applying and adopting these policies. The event participants were all in unison about some of the concrete steps to prevent food waste like buying exactly what you need, storing food wisely so it does not go to waste, and donating surplus food to the needy.
An overarching theme of the discussions was the need for collaboration amongst different key value chain actors in order to tackle the food waste issue holistically from all points within the food value chain. For instance, a collaboration between waste collectors and waste converters to be in sync on methods used to collect and convert waste can enable efficiency in food waste management.
The IGNITE community of practice ‘Combating Food Waste’ event was the first of a series of events and network exchanges that will bring together food systems practitioners, entrepreneurs, experts, enthusiasts and relevant institutions to discuss various topics around food systems in Rwanda.
Stay tuned for the next events!