HC Deb 20 July 1965 vol 716 cc1318-9
10. Mr. Gresham Cooke

asked the Minister of Overseas Development what action is being taken by Government representatives on such organisations as the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the World Bank and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to draw attention to loss and wastage of food and grain in hot and humid areas of developing countries caused by store pests, mould fungi and microorganisms and to suggest remedies such as the storage of food and grain in airtight containers.

Mr. Oram

We support efforts by the Food and Agriculture Organisation and other international bodies to reduce food losses caused by infestation. We are ourselves undertaking research in this field and providing technical assistance for the developing countries.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that a Swedish correspondent who has made a close study of this matter told me that about 35 per cent. of the food grown in hot, humid countries such as those of Latin America is wasted because of store pests, mould fungi and so on? Would it not be more effective to concentrate not so much on growing more food but on conserving food that is grown, through the provision of grain silos, airtight containers, and so on?

Mr. Oram

I would not like to commit myself to confirmation of the percentage mentioned by the hon. Gentleman but certainly losses are very considerable and this is a very serious problem. I accept the spirit of the latter part of his supplementary question concerning the importance of storage rather than growing more food, although both are needed. The Ministry maintains a tropical stored products centre which is engaged in research in this important problem.