• FoodCircle Team

Food Waste Around the World Episode 9: Uzbekistan

Food Waste Around the World is a Food Circle’s project aimed at providing information and raising awareness about food waste. The project is designed as a series of interviews with students coming from different countries with the aim of understanding how this issue is tackled and perceived around the world. This is made possible thanks to Sapient, the mother company of Food Circle, which every year offers internships to students from all around the

world creating a unique multicultural environment.

Hello Malika, thank you for participating in the project ‘Food Waste Around the World'. It’s great to see you! To start, can you tell me a little bit about yourself and where are you from?

First of all, thank you for having me! I’m Malika Ashurova. I come from Tashkent, which is the capital of Uzbekistan. I’m currently doing my Bachelor’s Degree in Business Information Systems at Westminster International University in Tashkent. I decided to spend my summer as an exciting adventure meanwhile gaining real life experience. I came across Sapients’ posts online and immediately decided to apply for the internship position. So here I am as a Graphic Designer in a wonderful team!

It’s our pleasure! You said you were from the beautiful country Uzbekistan. Can you tell us more about the food waste situation in your country? What is really happening there? Is it a big issue?

In the most recent years, food waste has become a complex phenomenon attracting the attention of scientists, consumers, and activists alike. It’s been termed as a global paradox regarding the manner in which emphasis is put on agriculture to improve food security and then a third of all the food produced ends up as waste. However, the issue of food waste in countries vary.Since my childhood, I was told not to leave and waste food on the plate. My mom always told me to put as much food as I can eat to not waste anything. Fortunately, the percentage of food waste in our country is relatively small compared to other countries in Central Asia. I think the main reason is probably considering some rules regarding trash which are implemented to sort them regarding the future. In other words, we separate the trash; plastic for special tabs, leftover food for special tabs - so the leftover food will be sent to the farms or lands where cattles are raised and probably for that reason the food waste is much lower than other countries.

That’s great to hear. You said the food waste situation is much less severe in Uzbekistan compared to other countries in Central Asia. How about the Netherlands? Do you notice any differences between the Netherlands and Uzbekistan?

So first of all, I’ve never been to the Netherlands before. I’d like to talk about my experience with another country if that’s okay. Last year I travelled to the United Arab Emirates and I saw a huge contrast between my country and Dubai regarding food waste. I was invited to a ceremony where there were presented different kinds of food which were not even touched by the people. I was observing and by the end of the ceremony, the waiters just took all the food and put it in special sacks that were sent to the trash. Without even separating the plastics from food, straight to trash. I was really shocked to experience this kind of view. After that incident, I decided to research more information about UAE’s food waste and I found out that annual food waste is estimated at 197 kgs per person. It was a huge number compared to my country.

Wow, that is very sad indeed. Thank you for speaking from your experience. Let’s go back to Uzbekistan: Who is really driving the attention to the food waste issue? Is the government, NGOs or small communities? What do you think?

I have searched a bit about this and found out that there were implemented small organizations like special communities. I want to highlight that these communities were awarded for “The Innovative Business Solutions” and I’m quite proud of them.

Thank you for the information! Is there any initiative or attention about the issue at the moment?

As far as I know, there are some implemented rules which one of them attracted my attention was an idea about preventing food waste. For instance, there was developed a know-how system that can diminish the percent of food waste in the near future. The main idea of the know-how system suggested by the specialists: after the production of primary juice, fruit waste is pressed, purified, and soaked in a special solution. The mass is dried and finally crushed in a mill. After getting a food powder which can be used in food-concentrate and cannery industries. In addition to juice, including pulpy juice, the powder may serve as the basis for marmalade, fruit paste and various jams. Also it can be used as a component of the formulation of bread, confectionary products, candy paste. To the creators’ opinion, the powders-semi products are characterized by high nutritive and biological value - they are highly competitive with the powders produced on the basis of fresh raw materials.

It’s a great idea to find clever ways to use food that otherwise would be wasted. How about the government, do you think that your government is doing enough to reduce food waste?

Probably the government will put much more effort into this issue in the future. Because right now I know it’s not their priority. I hope that they will come up with world-wide solutions because even though we have food waste at a low rate the solutions should be implemented to fight food waste to reduce it even more. For instance, requiring all edible food surplus to be offered to hungry people, and then to animals as feed. Educating customers about food waste and how to avoid it will lead to an enormous changes in country. Additionally, the idea of getting every point of the supply chain to report on – and reduce – food waste will have a great impact in reducing the percentage of food waste.

At last, what do you think could be the next efficient step to manage this issue properly?

I will say that organizations should take action and directly approach youngsters. As I know, the youngsters are raising the awareness of this issue which is not fully acknowledged by our people at the moment. So I suppose some systems to prevent food waste should be invented as a nation.

Let’s hope for the best. Okay, that would be it. Thank you very much, Malika!

Interviewer: Ceyda Gezbic

Interviewed: Malika Ashurova

Editor and writer: Ceyda Gezbic