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Welcome to the ‘Safeguarding Food and Environment in Qatar’ (SAFE-Q) project site!

SAFE-Q is a three-year joint research project involving Georgetown University in Qatar, Cranfield University and Brunel University in the UK and the Western Sydney University in Australia. The project is  implemented through a research grant from Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) and explores the issue of food waste in Qatar.

On this website, you can find our bi-weekly blog to update you on the progress of our research as well as other related information and follow up on social media!

Help us identify what food items are wasted: Food Waste Survey

17 June 2018

For the last two weeks, we worked on a decision support system (DSS) to help both suppliers and consumers make purchasing decisions and reduce food waste considering shelf life of products and the demand (for example, the number of people in the household). The consumer DSS is based on national recommended daily amounts for children, adults, and elderly. It also considers shelf lives of different groups of food, and it suggests how many of each category to buy for the number of people dining over a specified period of time. For example, one could do grocery shopping for a family of five for the next four days. This DSS indicates how much food may be wasted in each food category (vegetables, fruits, meat, etc.) if consumers fail to finish the food within the time they indicated. For suppliers, our DSS provides suggestions on the required amount of food for specified people and how long these foods can stay whilst incorporating quantity discounts and implications for expiry.

To validate the DSS we conducted interviews with stakeholders in Doha. An interview protocol was developed which focuses on purchasing, consumption and waste habits, and core elements from our DSS. According to the problems we find out during interviews and stakeholders’ suggestions, we will improve our DSS such as adding different cases for users to choose.

We also keep working on our risk assessment models. By now, we have collected all data we need such as food loss data for different groups of world and countries. At a macro level, we also have data of GDP growth, food production value, and food price indices. Later we will work on building a regression model to analyse these food waste factors.

We are also getting ready for the closure of our project in about a month’s time. We will have two more blog posts to share with you our undertakings in the SAFE-Q Project and key learnings. There will also be a public summary submitted to QNRF to be widely distributed after the closure of the project.

Qiongyu Lu and Emel Aktas

3 June 2018

We have received a notification that SAFE-Q’s submission to International Conference on Applied Analysis and Mathematical Modeling is accepted. On behalf of the team, Dr. Samsul Huda will present a methodological study that utilises a combination of structured expert judgement and Delphi techniques at the ICAAMM ‘18 Conference in Istanbul.

We are also working to renew our IRB (Institutional Review Board) protocols. IRB’s role is to safeguard the rights and welfare of all human subjects who participate in research studies and all projects conducted by the university faculty, staff and students that involves human subjects or human material must be reviewed and approved by the board. The main function of the IRB is to assure that proper steps are taken to protect the rights and welfare of the participating subjects in a research study. IRB requires all researchers to complete a Human Subjects Training when data collection includes human subjects. For more information about the IRB please visit Georgetown University’s Office of Research and IRB web pages:

https://www.qatar.georgetown.edu/faculty/research/institutional-review-board-irb

While we are approaching to the end of the project, we are continuously working on the Risk Assessment and Decision Support Systems aims. As part of these final aims Professor Irani and Professor Sharif will be undertaking an analysis of the feedback we plan to receive from stakeholders. We look forward to sharing our findings on this blog and other SAFE-Q social media channels.

Authored by: Dr Hafize Sahin

20 May 2018

We are fast approaching the end of our project. Our project will officially close on 11 July 2018 and we will publish our last blog post on 15 July. Between now and then we are making the final conclusions for our Risk Assessment and Decision Support Systems aims. Professor Irani and Professor Sharif will be travelling to Doha for our final feedback collection from our stakeholders in terms of the Decision Support Systems we built within the project and how they may help people with different roles make decisions around their food purchases and food inventory management. We will be demoing our decision support system on the web and will be sharing the links with you in our next bi-weekly blog post.

We will also be making some changes to our project website; sharing with you our official deliverables produced for each aim over the past three years. We have learned so much in the SAFE-Q Project that we want to leave a legacy for researchers working on minimising food waste, use our findings to progress their research and extend our work to include more geographies, aspects that we did not include within the scope of our work. Our research data will be stored in Fig Share, an online digital repository where researchers can preserve and share their research outputs, including figures, datasets, images, and videos. It is free to upload content and free to access, in adherence to the principle of open data.

6 May 2017

Over the past few weeks we have been getting ready for our two presentations in the POMS Conference. Yesterday we presented ‘A systems approach to food security‘ and on Monday we will be presenting ‘Policies to reduce food loss and waste‘.

In ‘A systems approach to food security’, we argue that food supply chains are complex systems which have many diverse actors with different world views. Social organisations in education, media, or health care have an impact on how food supply chains are organised. For example, the recent conversations in the media on minimising food waste have an impact on operations of retailers. Science and technology has a role to play in inventing new materials and new packaging that preserves food longer and reduces waste. Biophysical environment is vital to operations of food supply chains as the soil, the climate, the water along with nutrients play a key role in farming. Policies govern how we operate food supply chains whereas markets are creating the demand for a diverse set of products. Both food supply and food demand affect food waste behaviour; to minimise waste we need policies that improve the infrastructure for the food supply chains to operate including port operations, storage facilities, and transport of food products to markets and policies that help increase the skills in supply chain, creating a good understanding of demand uncertainty and inventory management, how different transport routes impact upon lead times, and the consequences of supply chain strategies such as lean and agile in terms of the costs and the service promise to the consumers.

In ‘Policies to reduce food loss and waste’, we recognise the difference between food loss and food waste. The literature defines food loss as removal of the food from the supply chain during agricultural production, post-harvest and processing stages, and categorise it as ‘logistics-driven’; whereas food waste occur at the end of the food chain, during distribution, sale and final consumption stages and is usually ‘behaviour-driven’. For example, consumers’ preferences for perfect-looking produce can be considered as behaviour-driven where the shape of a produce creates cosmetic appeal but does not add to its nutritional properties. If we consider the geographical distribution of food waste, the share of food removed from the food chain either as loss or waste is around 42% in North America and Oceania, and 15% in Latin America, according to the World Resources Institute. We need policies to reduce resource consumption, incentivise recycling and resource recovery. Such policies will be applicable to manufacturing operation as well as consumers, where they can be made aware of the consequences of their choices.

22 April 2018

Recently we showcased our research at the Makerspace Initiative organized by the Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU).  This year the event was titled “Green Economy, Business, and Entrepreneurship” and brought together organizations and wider community for interactive exhibitions, workshops, and short talks. Along with the SAFE-Q Project, participants included Qatar Development Bank, the Qur’anic Botanic Garden, Qatar Green Building Council, Qatar National Research Fund and Al Jaber Green Construction, Green Maasai Troupe, Rozy Fashion, Papercut, Q-e Waste, Qatar Behavioral Insights Unit, Agrico, Global Farm for Agricultural Supplies, and IbTECHar. We present in Figure 1 an aerial view of the event, where the space is divided into workshop areas for few participants and presentation areas for large audiences.

Figure 1. An aerial view of the event

This public event that took place at the Education City Student Center included an exhibition called Living Off the Land, which presented how different people rely on nature to survive. The even had a children-friendly zone that encouraged upcycling and recycling concepts. Speakers focused on green economies and businesses.

The SAFE-Q research outcomes were presented at a corner (Figure 2) to engage participants with food waste reduction ideas.

Figure 2. SAFE-Q Corner

The SAFE-Q Corner in Figure 2 shows the SAFE-Q poster presented earlier this year in the Annual Research Conference, our SAFE-Q research outcome summarising the causes of food waste in Qatar, a tray sheet for canteens showing recommended daily intakes of proteins, fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy products, and a table tent informing the people dining on the table about food waste.

The SAFE-Q team will continue to participate such events and initiatives to share research outcomes and build on public awareness of the impact of the food waste.

Authored by Dr Hafize Sahin and Dr Emel Aktas