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Harvard Research Addresses Food Waste, Hunger, and Climate Crisis in Nigeria

Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic identifies policy recommendations designed to decrease food waste, support food donation, and combat climate change in Nigeria.

Today, the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic (FLPC) and The Global FoodBanking Network (GFN) released a new analysis on food donation laws and policies in Nigeria and recommendations designed to help reduce food waste, feed Nigerians facing food insecurity, and combat climate change. The research and recommendations are part of The Global Food Donation Policy Atlas, which maps laws and policies affecting food donation around the world.  

Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy with a GDP of US$440 billion, yet about 116 million people–or 44% of the total population–are moderately or severely food insecure while about 40% of food produced is lost after harvest. Not only would redirecting edible food to food banks support Nigerians experiencing hunger, but it would also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions produced by food in landfills. 

The new resources from FLPC and GFN, released shortly  before the International Day of Awareness on Food Loss and Waste, identify five key policy opportunities for Nigeria to reduce its food loss and waste, including:

  1. Ensure that food is donated safely without posing risks to recipients – and that businesses are encouraged to donate rather than waste edible food – by amending the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration Act or publishing regulations related to the Act that elaborate on food safety for donations and producing clarifying guidance on food safety requirements relevant to donation.
  2. Ensure that quality-based date labels do not cause food that is safe for consumption and donation to be discarded by amending the Pre-packaged Food, Water and Ice Labeling Regulations to explicitly allow donation past the quality date, and promoting education and awareness on the meaning of date labels. 
  3. Ensure that liability concerns do not deter potential food donors by establishing clear and comprehensive liability protection for food donors and food recovery organizations. 
  4. Ensure that tax incentives encourage businesses to engage in food donation by amending the Companies Income Tax Act and providing a tax deduction for in-kind food donations and for the activities associated with the storage, transportation, and delivery of donated food. 
  5. Ensure that food donors and food recovery organizations are sufficiently incentivized to donate food by creating government grant opportunities for food donation infrastructure.  

“Nigerian leaders can help feed people experiencing hunger, reduce food waste and loss and help mitigate climate change,” said Emily Broad Leib, clinical professor of law at Harvard Law School and faculty director of the FLPC. “Our research and recommendations – developed in collaboration with Nigerian partners and stakeholders – provide practical, actionable guidance that builds on previous work for an even stronger response to challenging issues. Our research highlights tremendous opportunities for Nigerian leaders to take further action.”

“In view of the spate of hunger and rising food cost, there is an urgent need for more commitment from all stakeholders, government, and the civil society to end global hunger and malnutrition,” said Michael Sunbola, President of Lagos Food Bank Initiative. “Food Banks play an important role in addressing this menace in their local communities. This is why having a strong food donation and waste policy is crucial to making sure food loss and wastage is efficiently reduced. This step will create an enabling environment for food banks to continue their interventions and initiatives that will nourish and empower vulnerable families.”

“An estimated 702-828 million people are facing hunger globally, and that number is likely to rise as food price spikes, supply chain issues, and climate change continue to strain our food systems,” said Lisa Moon, president and CEO of The Global FoodBanking Network. “Food banks help ensure more people have access to food while also reducing food loss and waste. Strong food donation policies are absolutely critical to this work—they help food banks serve their communities in the most effective and efficient way.”

The Global Food Donation Policy Atlas, supported by Walmart Foundation, identifies existing laws and policies that support or hinder food recovery and donation in a comprehensive Legal Guide and offers Policy Recommendations for strengthening frameworks and adopting new measures to fill existing gaps. The analysis featured in these country-specific reports are also encapsulated in an interactive atlas tool that allows users to compare policies between countries participating in the project. 

Atlas project research is available for 18 countries: Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, Singapore, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States. An interactive map, Legal Guides, Policy Recommendations, and Executive Summaries for each country are available at atlas.foodbanking.org.

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