Inter Press ServiceFood & Agriculture – Inter Press Service http://www.ipsnews.net News and Views from the Global South Fri, 19 Oct 2018 14:27:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.7 UAE Raising Awareness About the Impact of Climate Changehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/uae-raising-awareness-impact-climate-change/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=uae-raising-awareness-impact-climate-change http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/uae-raising-awareness-impact-climate-change/#respond Fri, 19 Oct 2018 14:24:40 +0000 Rabiya Jaffery http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158262 The Middle East, due to its geographical location, is particularly prone to the impacts of climate change. Longer droughts, more frequent and intense heatwaves, and higher temperatures in the summer are expected to to become increasingly prevalent throughout the Middle East – from Sana’a to Jeddah to Dubai to Tehran. Yet, the lack of awareness […]

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Vegan Society in the United Arab Emirates

By Rabiya Jaffery
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates,, Oct 19 2018 (IPS)

The Middle East, due to its geographical location, is particularly prone to the impacts of climate change.

Longer droughts, more frequent and intense heatwaves, and higher temperatures in the summer are expected to to become increasingly prevalent throughout the Middle East – from Sana’a to Jeddah to Dubai to Tehran.

Yet, the lack of awareness towards the issue, especially on individual levels remains prevalent for the most part.

The United Arab Emirates, however, is now working on incorporating climate change adaptation and mitigation in its national agenda and has also made it part of its vision to increase environmental awareness amongst its public.

In 2016, the UAE renamed it’s Ministry of Environment and Water to the Ministry of Climate Change and the Environment, thus officially bringing the management of climate change within the scope of the ministry and includes organizing “awareness campaigns in order to promote the environmental behavior of individuals” to its sustainability agenda.

A 2017 study by the United Arab Emirates University (UAEU) revealed that more than 40 per cent of the UAE’s population lack knowledge about climate change, global warming, and how human behavior contributes to environmental harm”.

Fatima Al Ghamdi, is a UAE-based climate activist, who has recently launched an advocacy group that aims to bring a shift towards a more plant-based diet in the Middle East by working on the grassroots levels.

She launched a campaign to encourage plant-based diets in the UAE in early 2017 and is planning to expand her network to the rest of the region next year.

“There is very little conversation here about how tackling meat and dairy consumption is extremely important to curb global warming levels,” said says. “A lot is being done, on awareness and policy-making levels, about deforestation and transport, but there is a huge gap on the livestock sector – not just in the UAE and the Middle East, but globally.”

Her campaign and advocacy work includes raising awareness in schools and universities about the benefits of reducing meat from daily diets, the impact of the meat industry on the climate, and what individuals can do to eat in more sustainable ways.

“I think there is a reluctance by climate change advocates and policy makers to intrude into people’s lives to the levels where they start telling them what to eat and in what quantities,” she says.

“But there can be comprehensive policies and business approaches that make dietary changes towards more plant-based diets possible and attractive for a large number of people and it’s something essential if we really want to reduce emission levels.”

Curbing the world’s huge and increasing appetite for meat is essential to avoid devastating climate change, according to one of the most comprehensive studies on the topic published in October 2018 by the journal, Nature.

In addition, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the global livestock industry contributes close to one fifth of greenhouse gas emissions – even more than the combined emissions of all cars, planes, trains, and ships.

“If the top 20 meat and fairy companies in the world were a country, collectively they would be the world’s seventh largest greenhouse gas emitter,” says Daniel F Kenneth, a professor of public health nutrient, based in UAE’s capital, Abu Dhabi.

He adds that it is cattle and meat industry that has the most long-reaching impact on the environment – more than one-third of the world’s methane, which is 20 times as damaging as carbon dioxide in terms of global warming, is said to be produced by cattle, including those used for milk.

This is why most environmentalists consider industrial cattle farming a triple threat to Earth’s atmosphere, as animals produce huge amounts of the greenhouse gas methane, coupled with the loss of carbon-absorbing forests that are accommodated into grazing areas, and the immense amounts of water needed to sustain the livestock.

“Cattle ranching and soya production to feed cattle often take place on deforested land, and this deforestation is thought to be one of the most significant way in which meat production contributes to global warming,” says Kenneth. “And the massive amounts of feed and soya needed to feed cattle is far from a sustainable way to use up the world’s scarce cereal grains.”

According to Kenneth, producing 1 kg of beef is estimated to require close to 14,000 litres of water and 7 to 10 kg of feed. In comparison, it takes approximately 1000 litres of water and just 2 kg of feed to produce 1 kg of chicken.

The UAE, despite being considered a “food secure” nation, relies predominantly on food imports, with up to 80% of its food imported from other countries.

“We don’t have much of our own cattle industry but that doesn’t take the burden off us,” says Al Ghamdi. “And large amounts of carbon dioxide are generated by the transportation involved in meat production – it makes more economical and environmental sense to shift to a duet culture where we rely most on foods we have the easiest access to.”

The report published by Nature calls for a “global shift” towards more plant-based diets, slashing food waste, improving farming practices with the aid of technology, better education, industry reform and improved efficiency as ways towards tackling the problem.

“In the Middle East, we used to have diets that focused on rice with lentils and chickpeas. That’s the way we’ve eaten for ages, with just small amounts of meat,” says Al Ghamdi.

“This trend to have extremely meat-focused meals is a new and Western concept but there is nothing in meat that makes it essential – there are other foods, such as legumes and beans, that provide the same protein and iron.”

Nature’s report emphasized that, coupled with a sharp projected rise in global population and global incomes (that would enable more people to eat meat-rich diets) by mid-century, the industry’s already vast impact on the environment could increase by as much as 90 percent, unless an active effort is made to reduce it.

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Africa Must Increase Spending on Health Care, Education & Modern Contraceptionhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/africa-must-increase-spending-health-care-education-modern-contraception/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=africa-must-increase-spending-health-care-education-modern-contraception http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/africa-must-increase-spending-health-care-education-modern-contraception/#respond Thu, 18 Oct 2018 09:37:32 +0000 Marie Rose Nguini Effa http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158241 Marie Rose Nguini Effa is a Member of Parliament (MP), President of the African Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development (FPA), Member of National Assembly of Cameroon & Member of the Pan-African Parliament. She is also a delegate to the International Parliamentarians’ Conference in Ottawa next week.

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Marie Rose Nguini Effa is a Member of Parliament (MP), President of the African Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development (FPA), Member of National Assembly of Cameroon & Member of the Pan-African Parliament. She is also a delegate to the International Parliamentarians’ Conference in Ottawa next week.

By Marie Rose Nguini Effa
YAOUNDE, Cameroon, Oct 18 2018 (IPS)

One of the main challenges which we are facing across Africa today is the imperative to empower its largest ever young population and to provide them with opportunities to realise their full potential.

Students in a classroom. Credit: UN photo

This calls for crucial and sustainable investments into young people’s needs – their healthcare, their education – and of course, ensuring that they have access to modern contraception to allow them to take charge of their own futures, and also help to stabilise the fertility rate. All of this will contribute to the realization of the African Union Agenda 2063.

Economic progress within the African continent as a whole has the potential to evoke a truly profound positive impact upon our collective achievement of the SDGs. For some this is direct: more economic prosperity would mean better employment opportunities and increased financial stability on an individual level.

It also implies, however, an increased spending into crucial social needs such as healthcare, education and sustainable agriculture which will not only have a knock-on effect upon the physical health and education level of citizens but open up a whole new world of possibility for them.

Once the basic human rights of health and education are met, social progress accelerates dramatically, and this is what we hope to see as African economies continue to develop.

Overall, Cameroon has many challenges when it comes to reproductive health and gender equality. That being said, we are making progress when it comes to spreading awareness of these flaws with the end goal to tackle these issues.

Various laws demonstrate systematic sexism, for instance adultery committed by a woman is criminalised but is only considered punishable when committed by a man if it is “habitual” or takes place in the matrimonial home.

Furthermore, abortion is criminalized, except if the mother’s life is in danger or if pregnancy is the result of rape. And rape is not recognised when committed within a marriage.

An issue which is badly impacting on the health of our young people is drugs. One particular opioid, called tramadol, is resulting is great suffering and ruined lives. Tackling this crisis is complex and requires a coordinated response from many actors, including parliamentarians.

Over the past few years, Cameroon has been grappling with the influx of over a hundred thousand refugees from several neighbouring countries. Although their presence regrettably provoked tensions with the local population, we must strive to look past the divisions created in our society and see each other as one and the same; as equals.

We should all take responsibility over the wellbeing of our neighbours and work together to make more inclusive, stable and healthy societies for all. This absolutely includes paying attention to the health and wellbeing of migrants and refugees, who are often particularly vulnerable.

In 2017, a $310 million humanitarian response plan, backed by the United Nations, was launched to provide life-saving assistance to 1.2 million people in Cameroon’s northern and eastern regions.

Our role as parliamentarians is very important. The voice we have gives us an unmatched responsibility to spread awareness on these vital issues within our political parties, our parliamentary groups and as well as our constituencies and regions.

We must fiercely and persistently encourage our governments to act, as well as to invite our co-citizens to engage with us.

Parliamentarians must lead the conversations on maternal and infant mortality rates, abortion rates and whether to legalise it, early marriages, with good health and wellbeing of citizens at the core of our intentions.

I want us all to unite, sign resolutions and laws and share best practices and ideas amongst our countries, because we are the voice of the voiceless.

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Excerpt:

Marie Rose Nguini Effa is a Member of Parliament (MP), President of the African Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development (FPA), Member of National Assembly of Cameroon & Member of the Pan-African Parliament. She is also a delegate to the International Parliamentarians’ Conference in Ottawa next week.

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Parliamentarians to Assess Population & Development Funding 24 Years After Historic Conferencehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/parliamentarians-assess-population-development-funding-24-years-historic-conference/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=parliamentarians-assess-population-development-funding-24-years-historic-conference http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/parliamentarians-assess-population-development-funding-24-years-historic-conference/#respond Wed, 17 Oct 2018 13:11:56 +0000 Thalif Deen http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158232 When international parliamentarians-– both from the developed and developing world— meet in Canada next week, the primary focus would be to assess the implementation of a landmark Programme of Action (PoA) on population and development adopted at a ground breaking UN conference, led by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), held in Cairo back in 1994. […]

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By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, Oct 17 2018 (IPS)

When international parliamentarians-– both from the developed and developing world— meet in Canada next week, the primary focus would be to assess the implementation of a landmark Programme of Action (PoA) on population and development adopted at a ground breaking UN conference, led by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), held in Cairo back in 1994.

Population Growth through 2100. Credit: UN Photo

With one year to go before the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), more than 150 parliamentarians will meet at a three day forum in the Canadian capital of Ottawa, October 22-24, to rate the successes and clear roadblocks, if any, to a strategy laid out more than two decades ago.

The thrust of the PoA included a commitment to reduce maternal and infant mortality, promote reproductive health and family planning, halt the spread of HIV/AIDS among women and children, as well as strengthen women’s empowerment and gender equality.

Underlying some of these issues were problems related to ageing, urbanization, female genital mutilation (FGM), midwifery, migrants and refugees, child marriages, adolescent pregnancies, the role of youth and the rising world population, which now stands at over 7.6 billion.

Besides sharing experiences, parliamentarians will also focus on the road ahead with a call for an increase in Official Development Assistance (ODA) — specifically funding for population and development which is being increasingly diverted to help finance refugee settlements.

Austria is one of the Western donors which has taken a lead role in helping developing nations reach some of the ICPD goals.

Asked about her country’s contributions, Petra Bayr, an Austrian member of parliament (MP) and chair of the Sub-Committee for Development Cooperation in the Austrian Parliament, told IPS: “As a multi-party group on Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR), we are pushing for more funds in that important political field for many years.”

“At the moment, we are successful. For the first time in recent years, we have some extra funding to combat FGM and to support access to SRHR services in the development cooperation budget,” she added.

She pointed out that there is one million Euros (about $1.2 million US dollars) available for fighting FGM and providing family planning services, and the UNFPA is being supported with 200,000 Euros (about $232,000) in core budgeting.

“I anticipate more cooperation between the Austrian Development Cooperation and UNFPAwhich remains to be explored,” said Bayr, who is also chair of the Austrian All Party Parliamentary Group on Population and Development.

She also pointed out that the Austrian strategy on International Financial Institutions (IFI) tackles the empowerment of women and their better involvement in economic activities.

“We know that economic independence leads to increased self-determination, also in private lives, including the decision about the number and the spacing of children,” she declared.

Excerpts from the interview:

IPS: What are your expectations of the upcoming International Parliamentarians’ Conference in Ottawa? Should there be, in your opinion, any economic commitments from Western nations to meet the funding needs of some of the developing countries who have fallen behind in the implementation of the PoA?

BAYR: My expectations are focused on cooperation, exchange of strategies on how to combat the global back clash in the field of SRHR and how we can fortify our communication to strengthen women’s rights which are human rights.

Also, how to meet economic commitments governments of the global north have already signed or pledged but still not fulfilled; they should definitely be an important part of our discussions in Ottawa.

IPS: The US, which was a significant contributor to UNFPA providing about $69 million in FY 2016, has cut off all funding to the UN agency. Should European nations step in and fill this funding gap?

BAYR: I’m very grateful that the Dutch minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Liliane Ploumen, initiated the global fund “She Decides” to curb the shortfall of about USD 600 million over the four years of Trump´s presidency and guarantee millions of women access to SRHR services.

Besides, this supports the fundamental rights of girls and women to decide freely and for themselves about their sexual lives, including whether, when, with whom and how many children they want to have. UNFPA shares the same goals, and of course, the agency´s loss should be refilled, also with funds from European countries.

The financial contribution of Austria will definitely not be enough to fill the gap but we are working hard as multi party group to push our government for more core funding for UNFPA.

IPS: As one of the key parliamentarian networks, what role does the European Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development (EPF) play in helping implement the PoA, including reproductive health, reducing maternal and infant mortality and gender empowerment?

BAYR: It’s we as legislators who decide about the laws underlying the programs that support SRHR and it is for us to ensure there is sufficient funding for these programs. As EPF has a clear focus on the rights of women and girls not only in Europe but through our development cooperation also in the global South, we have a key role to play so that women and girls can enjoy their human rights, have access to evidence based sexuality education and modern means of contraceptives, as well as medically attended pregnancies and deliveries and the economic independence to decide and self determine. EPF supports us in order to exchange good practise, take part in international discussions on SRHR and join forces to make SRHR a reality for all.

IPS: Is the widespread refugee problem in Europe hindering Europe’s ODA commitments? Is there a diversion of European funds from development financing to refugee funding?

BAYR: In general, we have witnessed a shift from fundings for development cooperation to refugee funding in Europe. I’m happy that we managed not to have this terrible involvement in Austria.

Despite the fact that our ODA is very poor, only 0.3% of the gross national expenditure (GNE) and that — already for decades — Austria extensively counts all fundings for refugee spendings in Austria into our ODA, even if this is in line with the criteria of OECD. We have to increase our ODA and dedicate it to the needs of those who are mostly in need.

If we want to achieve the spirit of the Agenda 2030 and leave no one behind, we should follow the good examples of some Nordic countries, the UK and others who show that it is possible to meet one’s international commitments by fostering the political will to do so.

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UN Secretary-General: About 820 Million People Still Suffer From Hungerhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/un-secretary-general-820-million-people-still-suffer-hunger/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=un-secretary-general-820-million-people-still-suffer-hunger http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/un-secretary-general-820-million-people-still-suffer-hunger/#respond Tue, 16 Oct 2018 17:54:52 +0000 Antonio Guterres http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158214 U.N. Secretary-General's message on World Food Day

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António Guterres

By António Guterres
UNITED NATIONS, Oct 16 2018 (IPS)

In our world of plenty, one person in nine does not have enough to eat.  About 820 million people still suffer from hunger.

Most of them are women.

Some 155 million children are chronically malnourished and may endure the effects of stunting for their entire lives.

And hunger causes almost half of the infant deaths worldwide.

This is intolerable.

On World Food Day, let us commit to a world without hunger — a world in which every person has access to a healthy, nutritious diet.

Zero hunger is about joining forces.

Countries and companies, institutions and individuals: we must each do our part towards sustainable food systems.

Today, we renew our commitment to uphold everyone’s fundamental right to food and to leave no one behind.

Thank you.

 

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Excerpt:

U.N. Secretary-General's message on World Food Day

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Zero Hunger: Our Actions Today Are Our Future Tomorrowhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/zero-hunger-actions-today-future-tomorrow/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=zero-hunger-actions-today-future-tomorrow http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/zero-hunger-actions-today-future-tomorrow/#respond Mon, 15 Oct 2018 16:32:07 +0000 Jose Graziano da Silva http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158187 This article is part of a series of opinion pieces to mark World Food Day October 16

 
José Graziano da Silva is Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

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Zolia Morán Tun, from Tucurú, in the department of Alta Verapaz, in Guatemala, implements the piling trays to produce local plants, which they consume at the family level and sell the surplus. Initiatives like these help to move towards the goal of zero hunger. Credit: Luis Sánchez Díaz / FAO

By José Graziano da Silva
ROME, Oct 15 2018 (IPS)

Just three years ago, in September 2015, all United Nations Member States approved the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The eradication of hunger and all forms of malnutrition (Sustainable Development Goal number 2) was defined by world leaders as a cardinal objective of the Agenda, a sine qua non condition for a safer, fairer and more peaceful world.

Paradoxically, global hunger has only grown since then. According to the latest estimates, the number of undernourished people in the world increased in 2017, for the third consecutive year. Last year, 821 million people suffered from hunger (11 percent of the world population – one in nine people on the planet), most of them family and subsistence farmers living in poor rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia.

However, the growing rate of undernourished people is not the only big challenge we are facing. Other forms of malnutrition have also increased. In 2017, at least 1.5 billion people suffered from micronutrient deficiencies that undermine their health and lives, At the same time, the proportion of adult obesity continues to rise , from 11.7 percent in 2012 to 13.3 percent in 2016 (or 672.3 million people).

José Graziano da Silva. Credit: FAO

Hunger is mainly circumscribed to specific areas, namely those ravaged by conflicts, droughts and extreme poverty; yet obesity is everywhere, and it is increasing all around the world. As a matter of fact, we are witnessing the globalization of obesity. For example: obesity rates are climbing faster in Africa than any other region – eight of the 20 countries in the world with the fastest rising rates of adult obesity are in Africa. Furthermore, childhood overweight affected 38 million children under five years of age in 2017. About 46 percent of these children live in Asia, while 25 percent live in Africa.

If we do not call for urgent actions to halt the increasing obesity rates, we soon may have more obese than undernourished people in the world. The growing rate of obesity is happening at a huge socio-economic cost. Obesity is a risk factor for many non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some types of cancer. Estimates indicate that the global economic impact of obesity is about USD 2 trillion per year (2.8 percent of the global GDP). This is equivalent to the impacts of smoking or armed conflicts.

This year, World Food Day (celebrated every 16th of October) aims to remind the international community of its fundamental political commitment to humanity – the eradication of all forms of malnutrition – and raise awareness that achieving a Zero Hunger world by 2030 (so in 12 years-time) is still possible. The experience of Brazil is a good example to have in mind.

According to FAO estimates, hunger in Brazil was reduced from 10.6 percent of the total population (about 19 million people) at the beginning of the 2000s to less than 2.5 percent in the 2008-2010 triennium, which is the minimum value in which FAO can make meaningful statistical inference. This reduction in the number of undernourished people was mainly possible due to the firm commitment of former President Lula and the implementation of public policies and social protection programmes addressing extreme poverty and the impacts of prolonged droughts in the northeastern part of the country.

In fact, governments have the most fundamental role in achieving Zero Hunger by ensuring that vulnerable people have sufficient income to buy the food they need, or the means to produce it for themselves – even in times of conflict.

However, world leaders have to bear in mind that the concept of Zero Hunger is broader and not limited to the fight against undernourishment. It aims to provide people with the necessary nutrients for a healthy life. Zero Hunger encompasses the eradication of all forms of malnutrition. So it is not just about feeding people but nourishing people as well.

Current global food systems have increased the availability and accessibility of processed food that is very caloric and energy-dense, high in fat, sugar and salt. Food systems must be transformed in a way so that all people can consume healthy and nutritious food. We need to address obesity as a public issue, not as an individual problem. This requires the adoption of a multisectoral approach involving not only governments, but also international organizations, national institutions, civil society organizations, the private sector and citizens in general.

It must be a collective effort towards healthy diets that include, for instance, the creation of norms such as labelling and the banning of some harmful ingredients, the introduction of nutrition in the school curriculum, the adoption of methods to avoid food loss and waste, and the establishment of trade agreements that do not hamper access to locally grown, fresh and nutritious food from family farming.

“Our actions are our future” is the message of World Food Day 2018. It is time to renew our commitment and, even more important, the political support towards a sustainable world free from hunger and all forms of malnutrition.

The post Zero Hunger: Our Actions Today Are Our Future Tomorrow appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

This article is part of a series of opinion pieces to mark World Food Day October 16

 
José Graziano da Silva is Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

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True Cost of a Plate of Food Around the Worldhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/true-cost-plate-food-around-world/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=true-cost-plate-food-around-world http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/true-cost-plate-food-around-world/#comments Mon, 15 Oct 2018 12:13:57 +0000 Herve Verhoosel http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158153 This article is part of a series of opinion pieces to mark World Food Day October 16

 
Herve Verhoosel is Senior Spokesperson at the UN World Food Programme (WFP)

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This article is part of a series of opinion pieces to mark World Food Day October 16
 
Herve Verhoosel is Senior Spokesperson at the UN World Food Programme (WFP)

By Herve Verhoosel
GENEVA, Oct 15 2018 (IPS)

How much would you expect to pay for the most basic plate of food? The kind of thing you might whip up at home – nothing fancy, just enough to fill you up and meet a third of today’s calorie needs. A soup, maybe, or a simple stew – some beans or lentils, a handful of rice, bread, or corn?

Credit: World Food Programme

In the rich Global North – say, in New York State, USA – such a meal would cost almost nothing to make: 0.6 percent of the average daily income, or US$1.20.

In parts of the developing world, by contrast, food affordability can shrink to the point of absurdity: in South Sudan, a country born out of war and disintegrating into more war, the meal-to-income ratio is 300 times that of industrialized countries.

It is, in other words, as if a New Yorker had to pay nearly US$348.36 for the privilege of cooking and eating that plate of food.

How do people in South Sudan afford it? It’s simple. They don’t.

This is not a unique issue to South Sudan. Across the board, food is becoming ever less affordable in poorer countries that are subject to political instabilities.

Lack of access to food, and the costliness of it, have many causes: climate extremes, natural disasters, post-harvest losses, or bad governance, all of which can damage- or even shatter- farming supply chains and markets.

But, one overriding cause stands out: conflict. At WFP, we’ve long known that hunger and war are tragically symbiotic. Which makes it that much harder to eradicate the one without ending the other.

The 2018 edition of WFPs Counting the Beans: The True Cost of a Plate of Food Around the World index, now spanning 52 countries, underscores this clear correlation between food affordability costs and political stability and security.

The index looks at whether food costs for the original 33 countries analyzed in 2017 have risen or fallen, and compares costs for the same meal in some of the world’s poorest places with one of its richest, by using a New York baseline to highlight vast gaps in global food affordability.

In many countries, it was found that food affordability measured in this way has actually improved since 2017. This is situational, thanks to strong economic growth, political stability, and/or a better rainy season- or in the case of southern Africa- humanitarian assistance helping to offset the effects of severe drought.

Though despite such progress made in many countries through the past year, food costs are often still intensely disproportionate in relation to income. This is the case across much of Africa, as well as in parts of Asia and, to a lesser degree, of Latin America.

Among the countries surveyed for the study, Peru tops the list with the most affordable plate at the NY equivalent of US$ 3.44, just 1.6 percent of per capita income, vs. what that same plate would cost in New York, amounting to 0.6 percent of per capita income.

While Laos and Jordan are close runners-up to Peru, other countries have deteriorated. Almost invariably, these are nations where peace has been (further) eroded by violence, insecurity or political tension, including South Sudan- where the cost of a plate of food has soared from the exorbitant 155 percent of daily income in 2016 (USD $321.70) to 201.7 percent of daily income in 2018 (USD $348.36).

It now costs twice the national daily income to buy a plate of food in South Sudan. Northeast Nigeria took second to last place, at USD $222.05, or 128.6 percent of daily income in 2018, up from USD $200.32, or 121 percent of daily income in 2016.

These abysmal numbers highlight the vast gaps in global food affordability, where 821 million people go hungry while elsewhere one can get a simple nutritious meal with a just a handful of change.

The fact that this still occurs defies both reason and decency, and it’s why we – the World Food Programme and other humanitarian partners – are there.

However, the impact of WFP and other humanitarian actors in saving and changing lives cannot be sustained without political investment, good governance, transparent markets, and wider partnerships.

Societies cannot lift themselves out of the poverty trap if families are continuously priced out of providing their children with the nutritional meals essential for them to develop into healthy and productive adults, if climate degradation continues to threaten food security and development gains, and if protracted conflicts continue to destroy societies and force young talent elsewhere.

With a concerted global effort, the international community can achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals and end hunger and malnutrition. Governments must engage with and support their developing country counterparts in peacebuilding, conflict resolution and disaster risk reduction.

The private sector must embrace that turning a profit can go hand in hand with advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through employing young people to boost incomes, sourcing from smallholder farms, and through working alongside leaders to strengthen supply chains.

The shocking and outraging numbers in this year’s “Counting the Beans” index highlight that peaceful societies and affordable food go hand in hand. We have the modern technological capacities to end world hunger, but first we must end the conflict that fosters it.

Together, we can work towards reversing the figures in this year’s index, and ensure that in the future, nobody will have to work a day and a half to afford a simple meal.

The post True Cost of a Plate of Food Around the World appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

This article is part of a series of opinion pieces to mark World Food Day October 16

 
Herve Verhoosel is Senior Spokesperson at the UN World Food Programme (WFP)

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Rural Migration: An Opportunity, Not A Challengehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/rural-migration-opportunity-not-challenge/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=rural-migration-opportunity-not-challenge http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/rural-migration-opportunity-not-challenge/#respond Mon, 15 Oct 2018 11:03:04 +0000 Tharanga Yakupitiyage http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158170 While it can be a challenging issue, migration must be seen as an opportunity and be met with sound, coherent policies that neither stem nor promote the phenomenon. A new report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) examines rural migration and urges countries to maximise the contribution of such migrants […]

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Women and children caught in a dust-laden gust at an IDP settlement 60km south of the town of Gode, reachable only along a dirt track through the desiccated landscape. Credit: James Jeffrey/IPS

Women and children caught in a dust-laden gust at an IDP settlement 60km south of the town of Gode, reachable only along a dirt track through the desiccated landscape. Credit: James Jeffrey/IPS

By Tharanga Yakupitiyage
UNITED NATIONS, Oct 15 2018 (IPS)

While it can be a challenging issue, migration must be seen as an opportunity and be met with sound, coherent policies that neither stem nor promote the phenomenon.

A new report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) examines rural migration and urges countries to maximise the contribution of such migrants to economic and social development.

“We cannot ignore the challenges and costs associated with migration,” FAO Director General José Graziano da Silva said.

“The objective must be to make migration a choice, not a necessity, and to maximise the positive impacts while minimising the negative ones,” he added.

FAO’s senior economist and author of the report Andrea Cattaneo echoed similar sentiments to IPS, stating; “Migration, despite all the challenges that it may pose, really represents the core of economic, social, and human development.”

Though international migration often dominates headlines, the report shows that internal migration is a far larger phenomenon.

More than one billion people living in developing countries have moved internally, with 80 percent of moves involving rural areas.

Migration between developing countries is also larger than those to developed countries. For instance, approximately 85 percent of refugees globally are hosted by developing countries, and at least one-third in rural areas.

Cattaneo additionally highlighted the link between internal and international migrants, noting that in low-income countries, internal migrants are five times more likely to migrate internationally than people who have not moved.

A significant portion of international migrants are also found to have come from rural areas. FAO found that almost 75 percent of rural households from Malawi migrate internationally.

Abdul Aziz stands with his child in Dhaka's Malibagh slum. He came to Bangladesh’s capital a decade ago after losing everything to river erosion, hoping to rebuild his life, but only to find grinding poverty. Credit: Rafiqul Islam/IPS

Abdul Aziz stands with his child in Dhaka’s Malibagh slum. He came to Bangladesh’s capital a decade ago after losing everything to river erosion, hoping to rebuild his life, but only to find grinding poverty. Credit: Rafiqul Islam/IPS

Why all the movement?

While human movements have long occurred since the beginning of time, many migrants now move out of necessity, not choice.

Alongside an increase in protracted crises which force communities out of their homes, it is the lack of access to income and employment and thus a sustainable livelihood that is among the primary drivers of rural migration.

In China, significant rural-urban income gaps drove rural workers to abandon agriculture and migrate to cities.

Between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of China’s population living in urban areas increased from 26 percent to 56 percent, and an estimated 200 million rural migrants now work in the East Asian nation’s cities.

However, such rapid urbanisation increasingly seen around the world is posing new challenges in the availability of resources.

Poor environmental conditions and agricultural productivity have also driven rural workers away.

A recent study revealed that a 1 degree Celsius increase in temperature is associated with a 5 percent increase in the number of international migrants, but only from agriculture-dependent societies.

In other countries such as Thailand and Ghana, migration is prompted by the lack of infrastructure and access to services such as education and health care.

This points to the importance of investing in rural areas to ensure migration is not overwhelming and that residents have the means to live a prosperous life.

However, it is very important to consider the right type of investments and development, Cattaneo said.

“The type of development matters. Development per say is not going to reduce migration…but if you have the right type of development and investments in rural areas, you can make the case that you can reduce some of this migration,” Cattaneo told IPS.

A forward outlook

In the report, FAO advocates a territorial development approach to reduce rural out-migration  and thus international migration including investments in social services and improving regional infrastructure in or close to rural areas.

For instance, investments in infrastructure related to the agri-food system—such as warehousing, cold storage, and wholesale markets—can generate employment both in agriculture and the non-farm sectors and provide more incentive for people to stay instead of move to already overburdened cities.

Policies should also be forward-thinking and context specific, Cattaneo noted while pointing the consequences of climate change. This could mean investing in new activities that are viable to a particular region while another region moves towards more drought-resistant crop.

While migration may still continue, it will not be driven by the lack of economic opportunities or suitable living conditions.

“Migration is a free choice but if you put in place good opportunities at home, many people may decide not to migrate. Some will still want to migrate and that’s fine—that’s actually the type of migration that works. It’s not out of need, it’s out of choice,” Cattaneo told IPS.

In fact, migration often plays a significant role in reducing inequalities and is even included as a target under Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 10, which aims to reduce inequality within and among countries.

Whilst reducing their own inequalities, migrants also contribute to economic transformation and development around the world.

“We focus on the challenges without looking at the opportunities that can come with migration because at the end of the day, people are a resource for society,” Cattaneo said.

“If we can find a way to put them into productive use, then that’s an added value for the destination or host country,” he added, pointing to Uganda as an example.

In recent years, Uganda has seen an influx of refugees from conflict-stricken nations such as South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

With its open-door policy, the East African country now has 1.4 million refugees, posing strains on resources.

Despite the challenges, its progressive refugee policy allows non-nationals to seek employment, go to school, and access healthcare. The government also provides a piece of land to each refugee family for their own agricultural use.

“This is a country that has looked beyond the challenges to see the opportunities, and they are making these people be productive part of society,” Cattaneo said.

With certain rhetoric that has cast migrants in a negative light, the international community still has a way to go to learn how to turn challenges into opportunities.

“Much remains to be done to eliminate poverty and hunger in the world. Migration was – and will continue to be – part and parcel of the broader development process,” Graziano da Silva concluded.

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Women & Youth Key to Achieving Agenda 2030 in South-South Cooperationhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/women-youth-key-achieving-agenda-2030-south-south-cooperation/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=women-youth-key-achieving-agenda-2030-south-south-cooperation http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/women-youth-key-achieving-agenda-2030-south-south-cooperation/#respond Mon, 15 Oct 2018 10:52:12 +0000 Siddharth Chatterjee http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158159 Siddharth Chatterjee is the United Nations Resident Coordinator to Kenya.

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India and Kenya signed agreements in the field of agriculture during Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta’s visit to New Delhi. Credit: G.N. Jha

By Siddharth Chatterjee
NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 15 2018 (IPS)

By 2050 Africa will have 830 million young people. Many countries in the global south, India included are seeing a youth(men and women) bulge. To reap a demographic dividend countries in the global south need to share and exchange knowledge to leapfrog socio-economic transformation.

When the Buenos Aires Plan of Action for Technical Cooperation Amongst Developing Countries (BAPA) was adopted, few would have predicted that only 40 years later, developing countries would be accounting for the largest levels of global economic output.

It is an acknowledgement of the fact that new pillars of growth and influence have clearly emerged from the global south that the newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) stress the importance of South-South cooperation in implementing the 2030 agenda.

Goal 17 on revitalizing global partnerships for sustainable development stresses the role of South-South and Triangular Cooperation in achieving the SDGs.

South-South Cooperation (SSC) is on the rise in scale and scope. It is recognized as crucial in collective efforts to address challenges such as poverty eradication, climate change, food security, social protection, public health and infrastructure development.

SSC is seen by various development actors as a vital complement to North-South Development Cooperation. It may also represent the fertilization of a debate on how Overseas Development Aid flows relate to broader financing for development flows.

This year, 49 of the 55 member states of the African Union signed the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, which will come into effect once 22 countries ratify it. It will be the largest free trade area that creates an African market of over 1.2 billion people with a GDP of US$2.5 trillion.

At the moment, infrastructure projects account for just over half of South-South cooperation, with China leading in this area. India is a considerable player, with projects such as the Pan African E-Network Project that will connect African countries by a satellite and a fibre-optic network for tele-education, tele–medicine, internet and videoconferencing.

Yet the feeling persists that the potential of this cooperation has not been fully leveraged, and a key topic of discourse being how south to south cooperation can contribute to sustainable development and what more needs to be done to scale-up and improve such cooperation for sustainable development.

How do we ensure that trade, investment, technology transfer and knowledge sharing address the needs of recipient countries as prioritized in their development strategies?

These are the kind of questions that will preoccupy organisations such as the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) and United Nations Development Programme(UNDP). These two are leading efforts to establish the South-South Global Thinkers initiative that will enable joint research and knowledge sharing to inform global policy dialogues on South-South cooperation for the SDGs.

Mr. Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator emphasized UNDP’s role in addressing the knowledge gap that many countries face when confronting their poverty challenges and emphasized that South-South Cooperation has become a “way we conduct business on a daily basis” because it has proven to deliver results on the ground.

If we are to keep our eyes on the overall goal of the SDGs – reduction of poverty – it is time to bring support to social sectors on the same level as infrastructure. It is time for investments to target the women and youth. Empowerment of these two groups provides the quickest pathway to poverty reduction especially in Africa, with agriculture-based investments the most promising sector.

Kenya’s economy is anchored on agriculture, where 70% of the population finds its upkeep. While in many regions crop yields have remained a step ahead of population growth, helping free them of hunger and famine, Africa has not managed to keep up with this trend; the impact of new technologies has been less apparent and agricultural productivity has stagnated, and even fallen in some areas.

In Africa’s agriculture sector, two-thirds of the labour force comprises women. Unfortunately, women farmers have less access to essential inputs—land, credit, fertilizers, new technologies and extension services. As a result, their yields tend to be less than optimum.

In addition, while African women are highly entrepreneurial and own about a third of all businesses across Africa, they are more likely to be running microenterprises in the informal sector, engaging in low-value-added activities that reap marginal returns.

If south-south investments are not deliberately designed for gender-responsiveness, the development course will continue to miss out on the multiplier effect that has been so well documented regarding women’s income. Women reinvest a much higher part of their earnings in their families and communities than men, spreading wealth and creating a positive impact on future development.

The World Bank says that agriculture will be a one trillion dollar business in Africa by 2030. Is there a better way to prepare to reap from part of this business than positioning the continent’s richest resource – the youth?

In his acceptance speech as the global champion of the youth agenda at the UN General Assembly 2018, President Uhuru Kenyatta said, “progress for the youth means progress for the entire humanity”.

In Kenya for example, one million young people join the work force every year. Of these young people, only about one in five is likely to find a formal job, with the rest either being unemployed or engaged in some non-wage earning occupation.

This means that Kenya needs a million new jobs every year for the next 10 years to keep up with the rapidly-expanding youth bulge. The median age of Kenyan farmers is 61, yet the median age of the population is 18. This is a potential force that must be involved in Agriculture.

To do this, creative and sustainable ways must be found to create opportunities that will present youth with the allure and career progression currently lacking in agriculture. With one of the fastest internet penetration rates, the youth in the country can be supported to exploit information technology for various value-addition ventures in agri-business.

This can be even more useful when focusing on areas with untapped potential, such as what is now known as the Blue Economy. Africa’s economies have continued to post remarkable growth rates, largely driven by the richness of its land-based natural resources, yet 38 of the continent’s 54 states are coastal.

India and Kenya have already made initial moves in this direction. Following the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Kenya two years ago, the two governments agreed to pursue initiatives in the sustainable management and extraction of ocean-based resources.

India will be sharing with Kenya expertise on space-based applications to address natural resources management and weather forecasting, expertise that can be exploited to improve food output in the country.

The rise of SSC introduces new dynamics to international development cooperation. SSC challenges traditional donor aid relationships inasmuch as it promotes economic independence and collective self-reliance of developing countries, and aspires for cooperation on the basis of equality, solidarity and mutual benefit.

There is a need to re-orient SSDC, along with international development cooperation more broadly, to adhere to norms and guidelines that consistently takes into account human rights, equity, gender equality, decent work, ecological sustainability, democratic ownership and other key elements of social justice.

As President Roosevelt said, “We cannot always build a future for our youth, but we can always build our youth for the future.”

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Excerpt:

Siddharth Chatterjee is the United Nations Resident Coordinator to Kenya.

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World Food Day: World Hunger is on the Rise Againhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/world-hunger-rise-2/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=world-hunger-rise-2 http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/world-hunger-rise-2/#respond Mon, 15 Oct 2018 09:58:41 +0000 IPS World Desk http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158168 According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), over 820 million people are currently suffering from chronic undernourishment across the globe. The reasons for the surge are complex, but are attributed to increasing conflict, economic slowdowns and the rise in extreme weather events related to climate change. Furthermore, rapidly increasing obesity levels are […]

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World Food Day - This year's day is being observed under the theme: "OUR ACTIONS ARE OUR FUTURE. A ZERO HUNGER WORLD BY 2030 IS POSSIBLE."

By IPS World Desk
ROME, Oct 15 2018 (IPS)

According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), over 820 million people are currently suffering from chronic undernourishment across the globe. The reasons for the surge are complex, but are attributed to increasing conflict, economic slowdowns and the rise in extreme weather events related to climate change.

Furthermore, rapidly increasing obesity levels are reversing many years of progress in combatting hunger and malnutrition.

Indeed, today 672 million people suffer from obesity and a further 1.3 billion people are overweight.

However, change can happen.

This year’s World Food Day is being observed under the theme: “OUR ACTIONS ARE OUR FUTURE. A ZERO HUNGER WORLD BY 2030 IS POSSIBLE.”

70 percent of the world’s poor live in rural areas where people’s lives depend on agriculture, fisheries or forestry. That’s why Zero hunger calls for a transformation of rural economy: through government to create opportunity and through Smallholder farmers engaging the future of sustainable agricultural methods.

But employment and economic growth aren’t enough, especially for those who endure conflict and suffering.

Zero Hunger moves beyond conflict-resolution and economic growth, taking the long-term approach to build peaceful, inclusive societies.

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Latin America Backslides in Struggle to Reach Zero Hunger Goalhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/latin-america-backslides-struggle-reach-zero-hunger-goal/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=latin-america-backslides-struggle-reach-zero-hunger-goal http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/latin-america-backslides-struggle-reach-zero-hunger-goal/#respond Sun, 14 Oct 2018 13:48:03 +0000 Orlando Milesi http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158148 This article is part of a series of stories to mark World Food Day October 16.

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A girl helps her family peeling cassava in Acará, in the northeast of Brazil's Amazon jungle. More than five million children are chronically malnourished in Latin America, a region sliding backwards with respect to the goal of eradicating hunger and extreme poverty, while obesity, which affects seven million children, is on the rise. Credit: Fabiana Frayssinet/IPS

A girl helps her family peeling cassava in Acará, in the northeast of Brazil's Amazon jungle. More than five million children are chronically malnourished in Latin America, a region sliding backwards with respect to the goal of eradicating hunger and extreme poverty, while obesity, which affects seven million children, is on the rise. Credit: Fabiana Frayssinet/IPS

By Orlando Milesi
SANTIAGO, Oct 14 2018 (IPS)

For the third consecutive year, South America slid backwards in the global struggle to achieve zero hunger by 2030, with 39 million people living with hunger and five million children suffering from malnutrition.

“It’s very distressing because we’re not making progress. We’re not doing well, we’re going in reverse. You can accept this in a year of great drought or a crisis somewhere, but when it’s happened three years in a row, that’s a trend,” reflected Julio Berdegué, FAO’s highest authority in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The regional representative of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations said it is cause for concern that it is not Central America, the poorest subregion, that is failing in its efforts, but the South American countries that have stagnated."More than five million children in Latin America are permanently malnourished. In a continent of abundant food, a continent of upper-middle- and high-income countries, five million children ... It's unacceptable." -- Julio Berdegué

“More than five million children in Latin America are permanently malnourished. In a continent of abundant food, a continent of upper-middle- and high-income countries, five million children … It’s unacceptable,” he said in an interview with IPS at the agency’s regional headquarters in Santiago.

“They are children who already have scars in their lives. Children whose lives have already been marked, even though countries, governments, civil society, NGOs, churches, and communities are working against this. The development potential of a child whose first months and years of life are marked by malnutrition is already radically limited for his entire life,” he said.

What can the region do to move forward again? In line with this year’s theme of World Food Day, celebrated Oct. 16, “Our actions are our future. A zero hunger world by 2030 is possible”, Berdegué underlined the responsibility of governments and society as a whole.

Governments, he said, must “call us all together, facilitate, support, promote job creation and income generation, especially for people from the weakest socioeconomic strata.”

In addition, he stressed that policies for social protection, peace and the absence of conflict and addressing climate change are also required.

New foods to improve nutrition

In the small town of Los Muermos, near Puerto Montt, 1,100 kilometers south of Santiago, nine women and two male algae collectors are working to create new foods, with the aim of helping to curb both under- and over-nutrition, in Chile and in neighboring countries. Their star product is jam made with cochayuyo (Durvillaea antarctica), a large bull kelp species that is the dominant seaweed in southern Chile.

“I grew up on the water. I’ve been working along the sea for more than 30 years, as a shore gatherer,” said Ximena Cárcamo, 48, president of the Flor del Mar fishing cooperative.

Julio Berdegué, FAO regional representative for Latin America and the Caribbean, in his office at the agency's headquarters in Santiago, Chile, during an interview with IPS to discuss the setback with regard to reaching the zero hunger target in the region. Credit: Orlando Milesi/IPS

Julio Berdegué, FAO regional representative for Latin America and the Caribbean, in his office at the agency’s headquarters in Santiago, Chile, during an interview with IPS to discuss the setback with regard to reaching the zero hunger target in the region. Credit: Orlando Milesi/IPS

The seaweed gatherer told IPS from Los Muermos about the great potential of cochayuyo and other algae “that boost health and nutrition because they have many benefits for people,” in a region with high levels of poverty and social vulnerability, which translate into under-nutrition.

“We are adding value to products that we have in our locality. We want people to consume them and that’s why we made jam because children don’t eat seaweed and in Chile we have so many things that people don’t consume and that could help improve their diet,” she explained.

In the first stage, the women, with the support of the Aquaculture and Fishing Centre for Applied Research, identified which seaweed have a high nutritional value, are rich in minerals, proteins, fiber and vitamins, and have low levels of sugar.

The seaweed gatherers created a recipe book, “cooking with seaweed from the sea garden”, including sweet and salty recipes such as cochayuyo ice cream, rice pudding and luche and reineta ceviche with sea chicory.

Now the project aims to create high value-added food such as energy bars.

“We want to reach schools, where seaweed is not consumed. That’s why we want to mix them with dried fruit from our sector,” said Cárcamo, insisting that a healthy and varied diet introduced since childhood is the way to combat malnutrition, as well as the “appalling” levels of overweight and obesity that affects Chile, as well as the rest of Latin America.

The paradox of obesity

“Obesity is killing us…it kills more people than organised crime,” Berdegué warned, pointing out that in terms of nutrition the region is plagued by under-nutrition on the one hand and over-nutrition on the other.

“Nearly 60 percent of the region’s population is overweight. There are 250 million candidates for diabetes, colon cancer or stroke,” he said.

He explained that “there are 105 million obese people, who are key candidates for these diseases. More than seven million children are obese with problems of self-esteem and problems of emotional and physical development. They are children who are candidates to die young,” he said.

According to Berdegué, this problem “is growing wildly…there are four million more obese people in the region each year.”

A seaweed gatherer carries cochayuyo harvested from rocks along Chile's Pacific coast. The cultivation and commercialisation of cochayuyo and other kinds of seaweed is being promoted in different coastal areas of the country, to provide new foods to improve nutrition in the country. Credit: Orlando Milesi/IPS

A seaweed gatherer carries cochayuyo harvested from rocks along Chile’s Pacific coast. The cultivation and commercialisation of cochayuyo and other kinds of seaweed is being promoted in different coastal areas of the country, to provide new foods to improve nutrition in the country. Credit: Orlando Milesi/IPS

The latest statistic for 2016 reported 105 million obese people in Latin America and the Caribbean, up from 88 million only four years earlier.

In view of this situation, the FAO regional representative stressed the need for a profound transformation of the food system.

“How do we produce, what do we produce, what do we import, how is it distributed, what is access like in your neighborhood? What do you do if you live in a neighborhood where the only store, that is 500 meters away, only sells ultra-processed food and does not sell vegetables or fruits?” he asked.

Berdegué harshly criticised “advertising, which tells us every day that good eating is to go sit in a fast food restaurant and eat 2,000 calories of junk as if that were entirely normal.”

Change of policies as well as habits

“You have to change habits, yes, but you have to change policies as well. There are countries, such as the small Caribbean island nations, that depend fundamentally on imported food. And the vast majority of these foods are ultra-processed, many of which are food only in name because they’re actually just chemicals, fats and junk,” he said.

He insisted that “we lack production of fruits, vegetables and dairy products in many countries or trade policies that encourage imports of these foods and not so much junk food.”

And to move toward the goal of zero hunger in just 12 years, Berdegué also called for generating jobs and improving incomes, because that “is the best policy against hunger.”

The second of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which make up the 2030 Development Agenda, is achieving zero hunger through eight specific targets.

Poverty making a comeback

“In Latin America we don’t lack food. People just can’t afford to buy it,” Berdegué said.

He also called for countries to strengthen policies to protect people living in poverty and extreme poverty.

According to the latest figures from the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), poverty in the region grew between 2014 and 2017, when it affected 186 million people, 30.7 percent of the population. Extreme poverty affects 10 percent of the total: 61 million people.

Moreover, in this region where 82 percent of the population is urban, 48.6 percent of the rural population is poor, compared to 26.8 percent of the urban population, and this inequality drives the rural exodus to the cities.

“FAO urges countries to rethink social protection policies, particularly for children. We cannot allow ourselves to slow down in eradicating malnutrition and hunger among children,” Berdegué said.

He also advocated for the need for peace and the cessation of conflicts because “we have all the evidence in the world that when you lose peace, hunger soars. It is automatic. The great hunger hotspots and problems in the world today are in places where we are faced with conflict situations.”

“We have countries in the region where there is upheaval and governments have to know that this social and political turmoil causes hunger,” he concluded.

The post Latin America Backslides in Struggle to Reach Zero Hunger Goal appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

This article is part of a series of stories to mark World Food Day October 16.

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Kenyan Women Turning the Tables on Traditional Banking and Land Ownershiphttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/kenyan-women-turning-tables-traditional-banking-land-ownership/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=kenyan-women-turning-tables-traditional-banking-land-ownership http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/kenyan-women-turning-tables-traditional-banking-land-ownership/#comments Fri, 12 Oct 2018 15:58:12 +0000 Miriam Gathigah http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158133 This article is part of a series of stories to mark World Food Day October 16.

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Mary Auma feeding one of the cows she bought with credit from her table banking group. Credit: Miriam Gathigah/IPS

By Miriam Gathigah
NAIROBI, Oct 12 2018 (IPS)

It was less than eight months ago that Mary Auma and her three children, from Ahero in Kenya’s Nyanza region, were living in a one-room house in an informal settlement. Ahero is largely agricultural and each day Auma would go and purchase large quantities of milk and resell it – earning only a 10 percent profit.

But in February life for the single mother and her children changed for the better when she raised the USD 1,500 required to purchase an acre of land and two cows. The money did not just buy her assets, but financial security and a sustainable income. And she has moved her kids to a nicer neighbourhood. “Eight years ago, none of us had land to call their own. Today, all 24 of us have been able to acquire land through loans received from the group’s savings." --Irene Tuwei, a member of the Chamgaa table banking group.

This is all because two years ago Ahero joined a table banking group. Table banking is a group saving strategy in which members place their savings, loan repayments and other contributions. They can also borrow funds immediately. Table banking groups are growing in popularity across Africa, and can be found in Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. In some places they are called  table banks and in others they are known as village banks.

Auma always wanted to own land so she could become self-sufficient.
“With a piece of land, I could live on it, keep cows, chicken and grow vegetables behind my kitchen. This is what I have always wanted but I had no money to start these projects,” she tells IPS.

When you can’t bank on land, bank on the table

While women can freely own and buy land in Kenya, less than seven percent of them have title deeds, according to the non-governmental organisation Kenya Land Alliance.

“You need collateral to secure a loan from a commercial bank and women generally do not have property. They are therefore unable to access credit to buy land. The concept of table banking is highly attractive to women because they loan each other the capital needed to acquire property,” Francis Kiragu, a lecturer at the University of Nairobi, tells IPS.

Auma says that the loans from her table banking group are attractive since the only collateral women need to provide are household assets. “It is rare for members to default on loans as members are mainly neighbours and fellow church [goers] who come together in good faith,” she explains.

As more women take over control of their farmlands, this will not only become their source of food but also income. Having an income is important as it increases their purchasing power. Credit: Kristin Palitza/IPS

Increased access to loans means increased access to land

Farming on lands they do not own has made it difficult for women to make transformative decisions and to contribute to sustainable food security. But as informal banking takes on a new form among rural women in Africa, there is a chance that women will start having increased access to land.

“Women are no longer hoarding pennies to share amongst themselves. We meet once a week and in just one sitting, 24 of us can now contribute up to 5,000 dollars,” Irene Tuwei, a member of the Chamgaa table banking group in Turbo, Rift Valley region, tells IPS.

Tuwei says that unlike in the past, women do not have to wait months to receive their savings. Table banking is an improved version of traditional merry-go-rounds where women would save a little from their household budgets and the lump sum would be handed over to one person at a time. This would sometimes mean that if there were 15 members in a merry-go-round it could take 15 months for each member to have their turn in accessing the funds.

Things have, however, evolved from this to a revolving fund.

“In table banks, not a single coin is banked, which gives us instant loans without providing the kind of security banks ask for,” Tuwei says.

Table banking still guided by rules

One of the most visible table banking movements in Kenya is the Joyful Women Table Banking movement that has 200,000 members in all 47 counties, and which claims to have a revolving fund estimated at 27 million dollars. This is said to be currently in the hands and pockets of women across the country in form of loans.

Tuwei’s Chamgaa group is one of 12,000 under this movement.

“These groups are so successful that we now have banks reaching out to us offering special accounts where we can borrow money at very friendly terms. Before, these banks would never accept our loan applications because we did not have assets to attach while applying for them,” Tuwei tells IPS.

Table banking is guided by rules and regulations designed and agreed upon by members. They include how often to meet, with some groups meeting weekly and others monthly.

The rules also include loan repayment periods and also touch on how members should conduct themselves during meetings. Tuwei says that across table banking groups, small misdemeanours such as being late for a meeting can attract a fine of between USD 2 to USD 5. Loans given to members are also charged interest.

Land and independence to call their own 

“Eight years ago, none of us had land to call their own. Today, all 24 of us have been able to acquire land through loans received from the group’s savings,” Tuwei says of her group.

Tuwei was struck by polio at an early age which affected her legs. So she could not move around freely and required assistance to plough her fields.
Since joining the group, she owns three motorbike taxis, some cows, chickens, pigs and an ox plough. She also has plans to open a petrol station near a busy highway soon.

She now also harvests approximately 80 bags of maize cobs, which translate to about 40 bags of grains once shelled. From this, she makes approximately USD 2,300 every harvest season and puts some of this money into her table banking group to boost her savings.

“At the end of the year we share all the money that has been revolving among us for 12 months based on what each member has contributed, additional money gathered from penalties and interest from loans is shared equally,” says Tuwei.

Women need land to combat world hunger

This year’s World Food Day comes on the heels of alarming reports that after a period of decline, world hunger is now on the rise, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

According to FAO, while rural women are the mainstay of small-scale agriculture and contribute significantly to the farm labour force and to day-to-day family subsistence, they have great difficulty in accessing land and credit.

Kiragu is emphatic that while the face of farming is still very much female, it will take more women accessing loans, land and information on better farming practices to end hunger, achieve food security as well as improved nutrition.

“To begin with, the agricultural sector is not receiving sufficient financial support. In Kenya, only four percent of private sector credit is going to the agricultural sector,” Allan Moshi, a land policy expert on sub-Saharan Africa, tells IPS.

Women in Kasungu, a farming district in Central Malawi, select dried tobacco leaves to sell at the market. According to FAO, rural women are the mainstay of small-scale agriculture and contribute significantly to the farm labour force. Credit: Mabvuto Banda/IPS

Women understand land better

According to FAO, women in forestry, fishing and agriculture receive a paltry seven percent of the total agricultural investment.
Even more worrisome is that while women in Africa contribute 60 to 80 percent of food, only an estimated five percent of women have access to agricultural extension services.

“Women understand land even better than men because they interact with the soil much more closely. We are now seeing more women taking charge of the land and not just as laborers, but also as land owners,” says Charles Kiprop, an agricultural extension officer in Turbo. He says that the number of women who own land as well as those who hire acres of land during the planting season is slowly on the rise.

Kiprop tells IPS that women have also become more proactive in accessing key information on better farming practices. “I have been invited by women’s groups to speak to them on farming practices on many occasions. Women no longer wait and hope that we will pass by their farms, they are now coming to us either as land owners or those who have hired land,” he explains.

The worst is yet to come

Participation of women in harnessing food production cannot be overemphasised, particularly in light of the Global Report on Food Crises 2018, which says that the worst is yet to come. The report was co-sponsored by FAO, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

It predicted that dry weather conditions would aggravate food insecurity in a number of countries, including those in the horn of Africa’s pastoral areas in Somalia, parts of Ethiopia and Kenya.

“The March-May rainy season in Kenya was below average, this has affected food production and spiked food prices,” Kiprop adds.

According to the food security report, in the absence of conflict and displacement, climate change shocks were the main drivers of acute food insecurity in 23 out of the 65 countries and territories analysed in the previous 2017 on food crises. African countries were particularly affected.

The report indicates that at least 10 percent of the population in Ethiopia, 25 percent in Kenya, 27 percent in Malawi and 42 percent in Zimbabwe are food insecure. Other affected African countries include Madagascar, Senegal, Lesotho, Swaziland and Djibouti.

According to the report, “the global prevalence of childhood wasting (low weight for height) is around eight percent, higher than the internationally agreed nutrition target to reduce and maintain childhood wasting to below five percent by 2025.”

Women with an income and purchasing power

Moshi tells IPS that as more women take ownership of farmlands, “this will not only become their source of food but also income. Having an income is important as it increases their purchasing power.”

“Rural women will then be able to buy foods that they do not have therefore ensuring that their households are food secure,” he adds.

He notes that the women will also be able to purchase farm inputs.

Tuwei confirms that having an income has had a direct impact on her capacity to adhere to better farming practices.

“Five years ago, I could not afford to hire an Ox plough and would rely on the goodwill of neighbours who would first plough their lands and then come to my rescue. Many times they would come when it was too late to plough and plant in time,” she explains.

Tuwei further says that she and others in her group can now afford to use quality seeds, unlike before when they relied on seeds saved from previous harvests and those borrowed from neighbours.

“With the right tools, women can overhaul the agricultural sector because they have always been the ones involved in the day to day farm activities,” says Kiragu.

And thanks to the success of her milk business, Auma is ultimately glad that not only can she feed her children, but she can provide for their education and thereby their future also.

“Our table banking group is slightly different because we also contribute 20 dollars each week towards the welfare of our children. If a child needs school fees the mother is given a loan specifically from this part of our saving and at the same time she can take the usual loans from the general contribution so that she can keep her other projects going.”

The post Kenyan Women Turning the Tables on Traditional Banking and Land Ownership appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

This article is part of a series of stories to mark World Food Day October 16.

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Latin American Rural Women Call for Recognition and Policieshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/latin-american-rural-women-call-recognition-policies/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=latin-american-rural-women-call-recognition-policies http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/latin-american-rural-women-call-recognition-policies/#respond Fri, 12 Oct 2018 13:39:07 +0000 Mariela Jara http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158128 This article forms part of IPS coverage of International Rural Women's Day, celebrated Oct. 15.

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Yolanda Flores, an Aymara indigenous woman, speaks to other women engaged in small-scale agriculture, gathered in her village square in the highlands of Peru's southern Andes. She is convinced that participating in local decision-making spaces is fundamental for rural women to stop being invisible and to gain recognition of their rights. Credit: Courtesy of Yolanda Flores

Yolanda Flores, an Aymara indigenous woman, speaks to other women engaged in small-scale agriculture, gathered in her village square in the highlands of Peru's southern Andes. She is convinced that participating in local decision-making spaces is fundamental for rural women to stop being invisible and to gain recognition of their rights. Credit: Courtesy of Yolanda Flores

By Mariela Jara
LIMA, Oct 12 2018 (IPS)

Rural women in Latin America play a key role with respect to attaining goals such as sustainable development in the countryside, food security and the reduction of hunger in the region. But they remain invisible and vulnerable and require recognition and public policies to overcome this neglect.

There are around 65 million rural women in this region, and they are very diverse in terms of ethnic origin, the kind of land they occupy, and the activities and roles they play. What they have in common though is that governments largely ignore them, as activists pointed out ahead of the International Day of Rural Women, celebrated Oct. 15."They play key roles and produce and work much more than men. In the orchards, in the fields, during planting time, they raise the crops, take care of the farm animals, and disproportionately carry the workload of the house, the children, etc., but they don't see a cent." -- JulioBerdegué

“The state, whether local or national authorities, neglect us,” Yolanda Flores, an Aymara woman, told IPS. “They only think about planting steel and cement. They don’t understand that we live off agriculture and that we women are the most affected because we are in charge of the food and health of our families.”

Flores, who lives in Iniciati, a village of about 400 indigenous peasant families in the department of Puno in Peru’s southern Andes, located more than 3,800 metres above sea level, has always been dedicated to growing food for her family.

On the land she inherited from her parents she grows potatoes, beans and grains like quinoa and barley, which she washes, grinds in a traditional mortar and pestle, and uses to feed her family. The surplus is sold in the community.

“When we garden we talk to the plants, we hug each potato, we tell them what has happened, why they have become loose, why they have worms. And when they grow big we congratulate them, one by one, so our food has a lot of energy when we eat. But people don’t understand our way of life and they forget about small farmers,” she said.

Like Flores, millions of rural women in Latin America face a lack of recognition for their work on the land, as well as the work they do maintaining a household, caring for the family, raising children, or caring for the sick and elderly.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) urges governments in the region to assume a commitment to reverse the historical disadvantages faced by this population group which prevent their access to productive resources, the enjoyment of benefits and the achievement of economic autonomy.

“Depending on the country, between two-thirds and 85 percent of the hours worked by rural women is unpaid work,” Julio Berdegué, FAO regional representative for Latin America and the Caribbean, told IPS.

Women engage in subsistence agriculture at more than 3,300 metres above sea level in the highlands of the southern department of Cuzco, in the Andes of Peru, in the municipality of Cusipata. With the support of nongovernmental organisations, they have built greenhouses that allow them to produce a range of vegetables despite the inclement weather. Credit: Janet Nina/IPS

Women engage in subsistence agriculture at more than 3,300 metres above sea level in the highlands of the southern department of Cuzco, in the Andes of Peru, in the municipality of Cusipata. With the support of nongovernmental organisations, they have built greenhouses that allow them to produce a range of vegetables despite the inclement weather. Credit: Janet Nina/IPS

Berdeguè, who is also deputy director general of FAO, deplored the fact that they do not receive payment for their hard work in agriculture – a workload that is especially heavy in the case of heads of families who run their farms, and during growing season.

Public policies against discrimination

María Elena Rojas, head of the FAO office in Peru, told IPS that if rural women in Latin American countries had access to land tenure, financial services and technical assistance like men, they would increase the yield of their plots by 20 to 30 percent, and agricultural production would improve by 2.5 to 4 percent.


That increase would help reduce hunger by 12 to 15 percent. "This demonstrates the role and contribution of rural women and the need for assertive public policies to achieve it and for them to have opportunities to exercise their rights. None of them should go without schooling, healthy food and quality healthcare. These are rights, and not something impossible to achieve," she said.

“They play key roles and produce and work much more than men,” the official said from FAO’s regional headquarters in Santiago. “In the orchards, in the fields, during planting time, they raise the crops, take care of the farm animals, and disproportionately carry the workload of the house, the children, etc., but they don’t see a cent.”

“We say: we want women to stay in the countryside. But for God’s sake, why would they stay? They work for their fathers, then they work for their husbands or partners. That’s just not right, it’s not right!” exclaimed Berdegué, before stressing the need to stop justifying that rural women go unpaid, because it stands in the way of their economic autonomy.

He explained that not having their own income, or the fact that the income they generate with the fruit of their work is then managed by men, places rural women in a position of less power in their families, their communities, the market and society as a whole.

“Imagine if it was the other way around, that they would tell men: you work, but you will not receive a cent. We would have staged a revolution by now. But we’ve gotten used to the fact that for rural women that’s fine because it’s the home, it’s the family,” Berdegué said.

The FAO regional representative called on countries to become aware of this reality and to fine-tune policies to combat the discrimination.

A global workload greater than that of men, economic insecurity, reduced access to resources such as land, water, seeds, credit, training and technical assistance are some of the common problems faced by rural women in Latin America, whether they are farmers, gatherers or wage-earners, according to the Atlas of Rural Women in Latin America and the Caribbean, published in 2017 by FAO.

But even in these circumstances, they are protagonists of change, as in the growth of rural women’s trade unions in the agro-export sector.

Afro-descendant Adela Torres (white t-shirt, front), secretary general of the National Union of Agricultural Industry Workers (Sintraingro) in the banana region of Urabá, in the Colombian department of Antioquia, sits on the floor during a meeting of women members of the union. Credit: Courtesy of Sintrainagro

Afro-descendant Adela Torres (white t-shirt, L-C, front), secretary general of the National Union of Agricultural Industry Workers (Sintrainagro) in the banana region of Urabá, in the Colombian department of Antioquia, sits on the floor during a meeting of women members of the union. Credit: Courtesy of Sintrainagro

With the increased sale of non-traditional products to international markets, such as flowers, fruit and vegetables, women have swelled this sector, says another regional study, although often in precarious conditions and with standards that do not ensure decent work.

Trade unions fight exploitative conditions

But trade unions are fighting exploitative labour conditions. A black woman from Colombia, Adela Torres, is an example of this struggle.

Since childhood and following the family tradition, she worked on a banana farm in the municipality of Apartadó, in Urabá, a region that produces bananas for export in the Caribbean department of Antioquia.

Now, the 54-year-old Torres, who has two daughters and two granddaughters, is the secretary general of the National Union of Agricultural Industry Workers (Sintrainagro), which groups workers from 268 farms, and works for the insertion of rural women in a sector traditionally dominated by men.

“When women earn and manage their own money, they can improve their quality of life,” she told IPS in a telephone conversation from Apartadó.

Torres believes that women’s participation in banana production should be equitable and that their performance deserves equal recognition.

“We have managed to get each farm to hire at least two more women and among the achievements gained are employment contracts, equal pay, social security and incentives for education and housing for these women,” she explained.

She said rural women face many difficulties, many have not completed primary school, are mothers too early and are heads of households, have no technical training and receive no state support.

In spite of this, they work hard and manage to raise their children and get ahead while contributing to food security.

Making the leap to positions of visibility is also a challenge that Flores has assumed in the Andes highlands of Puno, to fight for their proposals and needs to be heard.

“We have to win space in decision-making and come in as authorities; that is the struggle now, to speak for ourselves. I am determined and I am encouraging other women to take this path,” Flores said.

Faced with the indifference of the authorities, more action and a stronger presence is the philosophy of Flores, as her grandmother taught her, always repeating: “Don’t be lazy and work hard.” “That is the message and I carry it in my mind, but I would like to do it with more support and more rights,” she said.

With reporting by Orlando Milesi in Santiago.

The post Latin American Rural Women Call for Recognition and Policies appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

This article forms part of IPS coverage of International Rural Women's Day, celebrated Oct. 15.

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Transforming Food Systems for Resilience in Africa & Asiahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/transforming-food-systems-resilience-africa-asia/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=transforming-food-systems-resilience-africa-asia http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/transforming-food-systems-resilience-africa-asia/#respond Fri, 12 Oct 2018 06:08:53 +0000 Nathanial Matthews and Deon Nel http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158118 This article is part of a series of opinion pieces to mark World Food Day October 16.

 
Nathanial Matthews is Program Director and Deon Nel, CEO of the Global Resilience Partnership

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A Filipino farmer reviews FarmerLink SMS messages. Credit: Grameen Foundation

By Nathanial Matthews and Deon Nel
STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Oct 12 2018 (IPS)

Our food system requires fundamental transformation. Disasters and shocks, from extreme flooding to persistent drought, are occurring more frequently and lasting longer, threatening the food security and livelihoods of millions of small farmers across the globe.

Diets are shifting towards less diverse and less nutritious food, as populations become increasingly urban. The resource base that agriculture relies on is dwindling, and carbon emissions and land use associated with the sector need to be kept in check. In 2017, 124 million people faced crisis food in security across 51 countries, an increase of 16 million from 2016 (FSIN 2018).

Neither business as usual, nor change as usual will deliver the transformation necessary to scale and secure people’s wellbeing and ensure our planet stays within a safe operating space.

These issues are interconnected. Therefore, only systemic solutions that address the food system as a whole will be sustainable.

What are some of the bold changes we can make to transform the food system in Asia and Africa?

The Global Resilience Partnership (GRP) has been working with innovators for the last three years to boost the resilience of the millions of smallholder farmers in these regions that not only rely on agriculture for their own food security and livelihoods, but form the foundation of our food supply worldwide.

Reducing the risk for financing farmers

GRP is working with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in Machakos County in Kenya to provide improved access to financial services for smallholder farmers without access to banking.

According to the Mastercard Foundation, only 1 per cent of bank lending in sub-Saharan Africa is allocated towards the agricultural sector, despite providing around 20% of GDP and more that 60% employment. This is because farmers are seen as risky investments, and rarely have the collateral needed to take out a loan.

IFPRI has devised a novel financial product which helps manage this risk. Their “Risk Contingent Credit” (RCC) product is linked to rainfall. Loans are given to farmers in the form inputs.

Farmers receive seeds, fertilizer and pesticides – enough to grow an acre of maize. They are trained in insurance policies by project partners Equity Bank, and in best agricultural practices.

In the event of weather-related crop failure, the Risk-Contingent Credit covers repayments on a farmer’s loan. The payments are triggered when a pre-determined threshold for rainfall is met.

This financing system acts as a social safety net, allowing farmers to persist through poor harvests. It also gives farmers confidence to invest in their farms. Though climate shocks will continue to affect farmers living in areas like Machakos, this new breed of insurance product can help them to transform their livelihoods into resilient businesses.

Devising digital tools to help farmers weather storms

Every year, farmers in the Philippines brace themselves for inevitable tropical cyclones and their devastating impact. Since 2013, it is estimated that 40 million coconut trees have been buffeted by storms and ravaged by pests. On top of this, replanted coconuts can take 20 years to reach full production.

That is why GRP grantee Grameen Foundation launched FarmerLink, a mobile-based advisory service that compiles early warning weather data, agricultural training, financial services and stronger links with market buyers. It works in remote areas to ensure that farmers are connected, even when they’re offline.

Field agents and local experts using the tool can collect farm specific, localised data to create bespoke development plans for farmers, helping to send detailed and targeted agronomic advice via SMS to farmers.

The pilot provided agronomic advice to nearly 30,000 farmers. Agents, providing individualized plans and training to 1,525 farmers helped reduce losses associated with extreme weather events and volatile markets.

Floods and cyclones are expected to become more frequent and extreme in the Philippines. With improved, accurate data made accessible via digital technology, farmers can offset the effects of climate risk on their crops and build sustainable, resilient livelihoods.

Extreme weather, scarce natural resources and persistent poverty in regions where many of our agricultural commodities originate, all threaten our food supply. But holistic interventions like these, acknowledge and embrace the interconnectedness of these challenges and solutions will be our best bet to create a more resilient and food secure future for all.

The post Transforming Food Systems for Resilience in Africa & Asia appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

This article is part of a series of opinion pieces to mark World Food Day October 16.

 
Nathanial Matthews is Program Director and Deon Nel, CEO of the Global Resilience Partnership

The post Transforming Food Systems for Resilience in Africa & Asia appeared first on Inter Press Service.

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Mother Nature Can Help us Deal With Her Water Disastershttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/mother-nature-can-help-us-deal-water-disasters/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=mother-nature-can-help-us-deal-water-disasters http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/mother-nature-can-help-us-deal-water-disasters/#comments Thu, 11 Oct 2018 16:17:39 +0000 Vladimir Smakhtin http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158116 Vladimir Smakhtin is Director of the UN University Institute for Water, Environment, and Health (UNU-INWEH), supported by the Government of Canada and hosted at McMaster University.

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When a natural disaster strikes, people are sometimes left with no choice but to leave the areas affected. Yet, for some, even this option might not exist. Cyclone survivors in Myanmar shelter in the ruins of their destroyed home. Credit: UNHCR/Taw Naw Htoo

By Vladimir Smakhtin
HAMILTON, Canada, Oct 11 2018 (IPS)

Almost every day we hear news about catastrophic flooding or drought somewhere in the world. And many nations and regions are on track for even more extreme water problems within a generation, the latest IPCC report warns.

Extreme floods and droughts have a profound impact on development, particularly in less developed parts of the world. About 140 million people are affected — displaced by the loss of incomes or homes — and close to 10,000 people worldwide die annually from these twin calamities. Global annual economic losses from floods and droughts exceeds US$ 40 billion; add in damages from storms like America’s recent Hurricanes Florence and Michael, and cost numbers balloon.

Flood and drought economic losses — comparable in dollar terms to all global development aid — strongly affect the water, food and energy security of nations.

To help cope with these problems, massive investments continue to be made in large reservoirs.

However, in certain regions it has started to make little engineering sense to build additional “grey (concrete and steel) infrastructure” due to a lack of suitable sites and / or rapid evaporation. In others, aging grey infrastructure may no longer provide their originally envisioned benefits because hydrological parameters and patterns are changing.

The appropriate response is to recognize the benefits of “green (natural ecosystems) infrastructure” and to design grey and green infrastructure in tandem to maximize benefits for people, nature and the economy.

Such “Nature-Based Solutions” were the theme of this year’s UN World Water Development Report.

Nature-Based Solutions include, for example:
• soil moisture retention systems, and groundwater recharge to enhance water availability
• natural and constructed wetlands and riparian buffer strips to improve water quality, and
• floodplain restoration to reduce risks associated with water‐related disasters and climate change

The role of green water storage infrastructure is particularly important. The enormous potential of such approaches are only now being fully understood but its clear that green infrastructure can directly improve the performance of grey infrastructure for disaster risk reduction.

Indeed, large-scale managed aquifer recharge efforts can, in certain conditions, alleviate both flood and drought risks in the same river basin.

Recent studies suggest that, in a river basin greater than 150,000 km2 in area, with only 200 km2 of land converted for accelerated groundwater recharge in wetter years, agricultural income could be boosted by about US$ 200 million per year. Not only is additional water made available to farmers in drier periods, downstream flooding costs can be eliminated. And the capital investment required could be recouped in a decade or less.

Such sustainable, cost-effective and scalable solutions may be especially relevant in developing countries, where water-related disaster vulnerability has risen to unprecedented levels and the impacts of climate change will be most acutely felt.

Nature-Based Solutions are not feasible everywhere and, where they would help, they alone are not the silver bullet solution for water risks and variability — they cannot be counted on to replace or achieve the full risk reduction effect of grey infrastructure.

Nevertheless, Nature-Based Solutions need to be considered in all water management planning and practiced where possible. Especially at river basin and regional scales, management planning should consider a range of surface and subsurface storage options, not just large concrete dams.

The challenges include:
• an overwhelming dominance of traditional grey infrastructure thinking and practices (and associated inertia against Nature-Based Solutions)
• the need for more quantitative data on the effects of Nature-Based Solutions
• a lack of understanding of how to integrate natural and built infrastructure for managing water extremes
• overall lack of capacity to implement Nature-Based Solutions; and
• a pre-dominantly reactive rather than proactive approach to water-related disaster management. Nature-Based Solutions have much greater potential if included in risk reduction planning and adopted before disaster strikes.

These challenges will take time to overcome, but there is hope.

The UN General Assembly has designated 13 October as the International Day for Disaster Reduction, which this year has taken the theme of reducing economic losses from disasters.

The theme corresponds to a target of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 – which underlines the need to shift from mostly post-disaster planning and recovery to proactive disaster risk reduction and calls for strategies with a range of ecosystem-based solutions.

Meanwhile, some 25 targets within 10 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of UN Agenda 2030 either explicitly or implicitly address various aspects of water-related disaster management.

The obvious synergies between all these targets will increasingly strengthen if Nature-Based Solutions are seen as a supporting concept to all of them.

The post Mother Nature Can Help us Deal With Her Water Disasters appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Vladimir Smakhtin is Director of the UN University Institute for Water, Environment, and Health (UNU-INWEH), supported by the Government of Canada and hosted at McMaster University.

The post Mother Nature Can Help us Deal With Her Water Disasters appeared first on Inter Press Service.

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Sustainable Development Depends on Better Nutrition for All Nationshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/sustainable-development-depends-better-nutrition-nations/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=sustainable-development-depends-better-nutrition-nations http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/sustainable-development-depends-better-nutrition-nations/#respond Thu, 11 Oct 2018 11:38:24 +0000 Dr Lawrence Haddad and Dr David Nabarro http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158114 This article is part of a series of opinion pieces to mark World Food Day October 16.

 
Dr. Lawrence Haddad and Dr. David Nabarro are World Food Prize Laureates of 2018

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Children in northern Pakistan line up for food rations. Credit: Ashfaq Yusufzai/IPS

By Dr Lawrence Haddad and Dr David Nabarro
DES MOINES, IOWA, Oct 11 2018 (IPS)

From cold chains and blockchains – major technological revolutions are on the brink of transforming food systems.

While cold chain technology can prevent losses as food travels from farm to market, blockchain technology can help digitally and accurately relay vast amounts of data between networks of farmers, traders and vendors.

All this can help reduce transaction costs, reduce financial barriers to accessing markets and build trust in the provenance of food, from farm, forest and ocean to fork.

Today more than one person in 10 struggles to get needed nourishment from food systems. It is tempting to turn to technology to solve such issues, This, however, will not be enough.

Instead, we need to shift our thinking from seeking singular solutions, and start to look at building better food systems as a means to deliver on the entire Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) agenda.

By investing in nutrition and more reliable food systems, you can reap rewards across all the goals. Yet according to the Global Nutrition Report of 2017 funding for nutrition by global development donors only constitute 5 per cent of all total global aid. Governments, on average, allocate a similar share of their budget to nutrition.

This needs to change, not only to improve nutrition for nutrition’s sake, but to achieve all of the Global Goals.

Better Health

The biggest driver of mortality and poor health today is poor diets. Non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and hypertension are on the rise in both the developed and developing world, putting a major strain on healthcare systems worldwide.

Many policymakers right now are very concerned about how to make universal healthcare financially feasible. One of the ways to reduce the financial burden of universal healthcare is to invest in sustainable diets and better nutrition now, before these diseases become a critical issue.

Hence the need to make sure that all food systems yield the kind of food that is needed for good nutrition and for good health. We can do this by enabling everyone to widen their diets to include more diverse and nutritious crops.

A Resilient Planet

The people who work in food systems across the world tend to be some of the poorest and most vulnerable people. They are particularly vulnerable to adverse weather patterns, so we need to help them to be both prosperous with decent livelihoods and resilient in the face of stress.

Farming systems that deliver nutritious diets, can also improve the resilience of farmers, and the resilience of our planet. Crop diversification for example can replenish nutrients to degraded soils, while offering a more diverse and nutritious diet to farmers. It also reduces risk for farmers who will no longer suffer a devastating loss if one crop is destroyed by bad weather or pests.

What we grow and what we eat also have a fundamental impact on greenhouse gas emissions. It is not enough for farming and food production to adapt to changing climates – it must also help to extract carbon from the environment.

Food systems that yield nutritious foods are perfectly capable of doing this – so the health of our planet and the health of our population can progress hand in hand.

Decent Work

Good nutrition improves wellbeing, and therefore productivity of a workforce. If Africa is to harness a dividend from its booming youth population, investments to ensure young people have adequate nutrition to support cognitive and physical development must be made now.

Nutrition-sensitive interventions can easily be integrated into the workplace. For example, can we enable women to have affordable nutritious snacks when they’re hard at work making garments that we will eventually buy in our supermarkets? Can tea plantations offering a facility for women who are lactating to be able to breast feed onsite?

The biggest innovation we need to achieve sustainable development is a different way of thinking about nutrition. This will involve getting people together within and across countries to begin talking about what the problems are and the solutions we can produce in collaboration.

Too often the conversations have been fractured between those who care about physical systems and those who care about human systems; between those who care about humanitarian issues versus those who care about development, or between those who care about the environment versus those who care about human health.

By integrating good nutrition into wider development interventions, we can tackle all these interconnected issues. We can work together towards zero malnutrition, a more resilient planet and prosperous societies.

The post Sustainable Development Depends on Better Nutrition for All Nations appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

This article is part of a series of opinion pieces to mark World Food Day October 16.

 
Dr. Lawrence Haddad and Dr. David Nabarro are World Food Prize Laureates of 2018

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Conserving Africa’s Precious Resource Base While Fighting Hungerhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/conserving-africas-precious-resource-base-fighting-hunger/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=conserving-africas-precious-resource-base-fighting-hunger http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/conserving-africas-precious-resource-base-fighting-hunger/#respond Wed, 10 Oct 2018 16:27:37 +0000 Kalongo Chitengi http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158102 This article is part of a series of opinion pieces to mark World Food Day October 16.

 
Kalongo Chitengi, is Zambia Country Director of Self Help Africa, a Farming First supporter.

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Felister Namfukwe on her farm. Credit: Self Help Africa

By Kalongo Chitengi
LUSAKA, Zambia, Oct 10 2018 (IPS)

Rosemary Chate’s seven children gather around the table inside their home in Malela, a village in Zambia’s remote Northern Province. They dig their spoons into bowls of food prepared by their mother – for the second time that day.

Not long ago, Rosemary’s family would assemble to eat just once a day – their resources, for many months each year, were so thin that they needed to ration their food supplies to just a single family meal.

This is the reality for millions of African farmers like Rosemary. Many challenges are keeping yields on the continent low. Farmers lack access to inputs that farmers in developed countries have utilized for decades, from quality seeds and herbicides, to the right type of fertilizer for their undernourished soils.

The hand hoe – even in this century – is still the main tool for smallholder families. Migration to urban areas and the impact of AIDS have left many rural homesteads with a labour shortage.

Climate change has also emerged as another challenge, and rural families grapple with adaption. Changes in the climate have brought with them not only drought and flooding, but new plant diseases and insect attacks.

The fall armyworm in sub-Saharan Africa has caused tremendous damage. This unpredictable reality has made crop management very difficult, and indigenous knowledge alone can no longer suffice.

African farmers need scientific innovation – from low to high tech – to face these challenges. Yet preserving Africa’s environment, its most precious resources after its people, is also a high priority.

This is one of the fundamental concerns of agroecology – ensuring farmers can produce food and earn a good living, while keeping the natural resource base intact.

With the right approaches that blend traditional knowledge with scientific innovation, this can be achieved.

At Self Help Africa, we are working with farmers to achieve this through the implementation of conservation agriculture. In Zambia alone, we have reached over 80,000 farmers in the last five years.

Conservation farming involves a combination of approaches. First, farmers are encouraged to intercrop a variety of species, such as groundnuts, which can naturally fix nitrogen to the soil, and cassava, for example.

This ensures maximum use of a piece of land that has been cleared – producing more food with less resources. Crop rotation and mulching, along with an integrated use of mineral and organic fertilizers are also part conservation agriculture.

59-year old Felister Namfukwe has seen the benefits of this farming approach. Not only are her soils healthier, but her income is as well. With the help of her sons and her profits from groundnuts, she is building a new home made of brick, replacing her previous mud home.

“Being part of this (Self Help Africa) project has lightened my burden,” she told us.

We also work with local farmers to build their capacity to grow good quality seed, and to strengthen community based seed systems. Recycling seed is a common practice in Africa, when access to better seed is scarce. However, recycled seed loses its efficacy.

We are currently working with 300 seed growers across the country, who are multiplying seeds that are more able to cope with climate extremes, are higher yielding and more resistant to pests and disease.

In Zambia’s remote Western Province, the Kamasika Seed Growers Association illustrates how effective community-based seed multiplication is assisting local food production in the face of climate change.

The group received training and support in seed multiplication techniques from Self Help Africa and government advisors on the technical requirements for producing certifiable seed.

The farmers were then linked to a new state-run seed testing laboratory, established with support from Self Help Africa in nearby Mongu town, to ensure that the seed being produced met the requisite germination, moisture content and other standards required to attain certification.

The group has since opened several retail shops where they sell farm inputs, including certified groundnut, bean, sorghum, maize and vegetable seed that they are producing, and supply to several thousand smallholder farmers across the Province.

African farmers are most at risk from rising temperatures and persistent hunger. We must ensure they have access to all the tools and technologies necessary to thrive in the face of these threats.

The post Conserving Africa’s Precious Resource Base While Fighting Hunger appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

This article is part of a series of opinion pieces to mark World Food Day October 16.

 
Kalongo Chitengi, is Zambia Country Director of Self Help Africa, a Farming First supporter.

The post Conserving Africa’s Precious Resource Base While Fighting Hunger appeared first on Inter Press Service.

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Investing in Arab and Asian Youth For a Sustainable Futurehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/investing-arab-asian-youth-sustainable-future/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=investing-arab-asian-youth-sustainable-future http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/investing-arab-asian-youth-sustainable-future/#respond Fri, 05 Oct 2018 11:08:16 +0000 Aniqa Haider http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158002 As the youth population has increased to unprecedented levels in Arab and Asian regions, governments need to do more to invest in them. “We are proposing concrete ideas on the effective use of the natural environment in the Arab region to contribute food security and youth employment,” said Asian Population and Development Association (APDA) board […]

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Governments, particularly those in Arab and Asian regions need to leverage youth population for sustainable development instead of making them an element of social instability. Credit: Victoria Hazou/IPS.

By Aniqa Haider
MANAMA, Oct 5 2018 (IPS)

As the youth population has increased to unprecedented levels in Arab and Asian regions, governments need to do more to invest in them.

“We are proposing concrete ideas on the effective use of the natural environment in the Arab region to contribute food security and youth employment,” said Asian Population and Development Association (APDA) board of directors’ head and Japan Parliamentarians Federation for Population (JPFP) vice chair Teruhiko Mashiko.

According to Youth Policy, a global think thank focusing on youth, more than 28 percent of the population – some 108 million people – in the Middle East are youth, between the ages of 15 and 29.

“This is the largest number of young people to transition to adulthood in the region’s history,” the organisation states. In Asia the number is almost 10 times greater with over one billion youth.

Mashiko was speaking during a key regional parliamentary forum called “Asian and Arab Parliamentarians Meeting on Population and Development – Investing in Youth: Towards Regional Development and Achievement of the SDGs” held in Manama, Bahrian this week.

Growing population, food security, unemployment and investing in youth for sustainable future were the main topics discussed during the meeting.

It was hosted by Bahrain under the patronage of Shura Council chair Ali Saleh Ali, and organised by the APDA and the Forum of Arab Parliamentarians on Population and Development (FAPPD) and brought together Asian and Arab parliamentarians along with experts and government officials.

Mashiko said governments needed to leverage youth population for sustainable development instead of making them an element of social instability.

“While these ideas may not seem to be directly linked to the issues of population, expanded youth employment and education programmes in the workplace can promote their acceptance of population programmes, [and have] various other implications for bringing about improvements in the existing situation.”

He further said that many regional parliamentarians forums on population and development are unable to sufficiently fulfil their roles. He said 40 years after activities on population and development started, it was becoming difficult to share the underlying principles of these activities.

“We are communicating with the people and governments about the concept of development from an international viewpoint,” he said.

Jordan member of parliament (MP) Marwan Al-Hmoud told IPS that he has a strong belief and faith in the importance of the role played by the youth.

“We need to focus on educating youth and emphasise on reinforcing values necessary to combat attacks against the Arab region,” he explained.

The annual Arab Youth Survey shows that defeating terrorism, well-paying jobs and education reform were among the top properties of Arab youth. “Overall defeating terrorism is cited as
a top priority more frequently than any other issue, with a third (34 percent) of young Arabs selecting it as a top priority to steer the region in the right direction.”

Al-Hmoud added: “Our youth are taking a step back from the Arab reality and [are] influenced by globalisation and foreign cultures, resulting in a lot of our youth to [having] no identity.”

Indian MP Nadimul Haque told IPS that the youth are the energy of the nation.

“Finding solutions in the field of population and development which impacts all areas concerned with humans is important,” he added.

“It needs to be uniform and sustained otherwise the whole idea of SDGs will fall flat,” he said. He was referring to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a collection of global goals to end poverty, mitigate climate change and protect the planet and to ensure equity and peace, among others.

According to the U.N. the world’s population as currently 7.6 billion as of 2017 and is expected to reach 8.6 billion in 2030, 9.8 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100 with “the upward trend in population size expected to continue, even assuming that fertility levels will continue to decline.”

Haque said this might lead to a multitude of problems, such as lack of access to resources, knowledge and health services.

“It can lead to resource depletion, inequality, unsustainable cities and communities, irresponsible consumption and production, climate change, conflicts, [and can] gradually lead to an erosion of the quality of life on land.”

Haque highlighted success stories from his home city of Kolkata.

“We have successfully installed rooftop solar power in individual dwellings/buildings,” he explained. “For waste management, we have set up compactor units and we are proud that India is self-reliant in producing its own food grains.”

A list of recommendations to achieve the SDGs was issued, which identified combating health issues, especially communicable diseases and expanding primary health care as an important step.

Recommendations included, among others:

  • universal access to reproduce health services;
  • further improvement in primary education;
  • comprehensive sex education;
  • eradicating gender-based violence;
  • and increasing employment opportunities for youth.

Bahraini MP Juma Al Kaabi said that his country’s legislative authority supported young people and mobilised their energies and strengths.

Al Kaabi further added that the government has made many sporting, cultural, humanitarian and scientific initiatives aimed at raising and developing Bahraini youth who are self-aware and capable of belonging to their homeland and participating in real and effective development and growth.

Al Kaabi said the Tamkeen Foundation has been established by His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa to support young jobseekers through a variety of training programmes that would equip them in being skilled for the job market and to also help financial guidance and support.

“The King Hamad Award was launched to empower the world’s youth, which is the first of its kind at the global level to create the conditions for young people to participate in the development of creative and professional ideas that have reached the United Nations goals for sustainable development,” he told the IPS

While MP Amira Aser from Sudan told IPS: “Agriculture was one of the key sources of livelihood in the state and youth involvement would further boost agriculture activities.”

In some regions of Sudan, farming is largely characterised by rain-fed production, low fertiliser use, poor quality seeds, inadequate water management and low soil fertility.

The region has experienced some of the lowest per hectare crop yields in the world.

Japanese Ambassador to Bahrain, Hideki Iko, summed it up: “Investing in youth for their education, employment and welfare are important as they are an investment for a better future for all countries.”

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Over and Under Nutrition: Two Sides of an Unhealthy Coinhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/nutrition-two-sides-unhealthy-coin/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=nutrition-two-sides-unhealthy-coin http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/nutrition-two-sides-unhealthy-coin/#respond Thu, 04 Oct 2018 03:39:34 +0000 Tharanga Yakupitiyage http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157966 A dramatic shift in the way we eat and think about food is more urgent than ever to prevent further environmental degradation and an even larger health epidemic.    A diverse group of experts from academia, civil society, and United Nations agencies convened at the sidelines of the General Assembly to discuss the pervasive issue […]

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Poor dietary intake and lack of food varieties affect huge numbers of children, who mostly hail from large, impoverished families in Nepal. Malnutrition is a significant concern in Nepal as around one million children under 5 years suffer from chronic malnutrition and 10 percent suffer from acute malnutrition. Credit: Naresh Newar/IPS

By Tharanga Yakupitiyage
UNITED NATIONS, Oct 4 2018 (IPS)

A dramatic shift in the way we eat and think about food is more urgent than ever to prevent further environmental degradation and an even larger health epidemic.   

A diverse group of experts from academia, civil society, and United Nations agencies convened at the sidelines of the General Assembly to discuss the pervasive issue of food insecurity and malnutrition and potential solutions to overhaul the system.“Sustainable food choices is starting to both look good and taste good which hasn’t been the story of the past.” -- founder of EAT Gunhild Stordalen

“It’s striking that we are still, despite all the advances we have seen in science and technology, we still have this big gap between those who eat too much and those who don’t have enough food to eat,” Barilla Centre for Food and Nutrition Foundation’s head of media relations Luca Di Leo told IPS.

According to the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2018, the number of hungry people increased to over 820 million in 2017 from approximately 804 million in 2016, levels unseen for almost a decade.

At the same time, and perhaps paradoxically, obesity rates have rapidly increased over the last decade from 11.7 percent in 2012 to 13.2 percent in 2016. This means that in 2017, more than one in eight adults, or over 670 million people, in the world were obese.

Adult obesity and the rate of its increase is highest in North America, and increasing trends can now also be seen across Africa and Asia.

Participants at the International Forum on Food and Nutrition stressed the need to deal with both forms of malnutrition, and pointed to the lack of access to healthy food as the culprit.

“It’s not just what’s in the food, it’s what’s in the discourse about food…there is more than one way to eat badly,” said director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Centre David Katz.

However, many noted that there is a lack of a unified, factual consensus on what constitutes a healthy diet from a sustainable food system.

“Without goals to mobilise collective action, and also no mechanisms to either coordinate nor monitor progress, it is really hard to achieve large-scale system change,” said founder of EAT Foundation, a science-based global platform for food system transformation, Gunhild Stordalen.

Katz echoed similar sentiments, stating: “You will never get there if you can’t agree where there is…we must rally around a set of fundamental truths.”

Fighting the System

Among these truths is the need to overhaul the entire food and agricultural system.

Despite the notorious and shocking findings from the 2004 ‘Supersize Me’ documentary, the consumption of unhealthy processed foods and sugar has only increased.

According to the Barilla Centre for Food and Nutrition’s Food Sustainability Index (FSI) 2017, the United States had the highest sugar consumption out of 34 countries in 2017.

The average person in the U.S. consumes more than 126 grams of sugar per day, twice the amount that the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends for daily intake.

This not only leads to increasing obesity rates, but it has also contributed to a rise in levels of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.

“The number of lost years to nutritional deficiencies and cardiovascular diseases has been going up very sharply in the United States,” said Leo Abruzzese from the Economist Intelligence Unit, which develops the index.

“One of the U.S.’ less impressive exports has been bad nutrition…people aren’t necessarily dying but they are living pretty miserable lives. Under those circumstances, wouldn’t you think there has to be something done?” he told IPS.

The FSI also found that the U.S.’ consumption of meat and saturated fat is among the highest in the world, contributing to unhealthy diets and even climate change.

According to U.N. University, emissions from livestock account for almost 15 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Beef and dairy alone make up 65 percent of all livestock emissions.

In fact, meat and dairy companies are on track to become the world’s biggest contributors to climate change, surpassing the fossil fuel industry.

However, Stordalen noted that delivering healthy and sustainable diets is within our reach.

Alternatives to meat have taken many countries by storm, and could slowly transform the fast food and meat industries. Consumers can now find the ‘impossible burger,’ a meatless plant-based burger, in many restaurants and fast food chains such as White Castle.

Recently, the U.S.-based vegan meat companies Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods was recently honoured by U.N. Environment with the Champions of the Earth award.

“Sustainable food choices is starting to both look good and taste good which hasn’t been the story of the past,” Stordalen said.

“Once people get the taste of better solutions, they not only start craving but even demanding  a better future. They come together to make it happen,” she added.

The FSI is also a crucial tool to guide governments and policymakers to pay attention to progress and weaknesses in their own country’s food systems.

“By collecting all of these [indicators] together, we essentially have a framework for what we think a good food system would look like,” Abruzzese said.

In some African countries even though there is enough food, it is the type of food that is available that counts. In Malawi, for instance, even though families had increased access to maize, nearly half the children are malnourished. In this dated picture, these children from south Madagascar are malnourished. Credit: Miriam Gathigah/IPS

A Problem of Power

The lack of access to healthy food and its consequences can also be seen at the other end of the food value chain: producers.

Women account for up to 60 percent of agricultural labour across Africa, yet still have poor access to quality seeds, fertiliser, and mechanical equipment. At the same time, they often look after the household, taking care of children and cooking meals.

Such gender inequality has been found to contribute to poorer household nutrition, including increases in stunting among children.

Forum participants highlighted the need to empower women farmers and address the gender inequalities in agriculture in order to advance food and nutrition security as well as establish sustainable societies.

“The opposite of hunger is power,” said University of Texas’ research professor Raj Patel, pointing to the case of Malawi.

In Malawi, more than half of children suffer from chronic malnutrition. The harvesting of corn, which is the southeastern African country’s main staple, is designated to women who are also tasked with care work.

“Even when there was more food, there was more malnutrition,” said Patel.

One northern Malawian village tackled the issue through the Soils, Food, and Healthy Communities Project and achieved extraordinary results.

Alongside actions to diversify crop, the project brought men and women together to share the workload such as cooking together and involving men in care work.

Not only did they achieve gender equality in agriculture, the village also saw dramatic decreases in infant malnutrition.

“We need to value women’s work,” Patel said.

Future of Food

Fixing the food and agricultural system is no easy task, but it has to be done, attendees said.

“We know what the problems are, we’ve also identified the potential solutions…and the main solution is each and every one of us,” Di Leo told IPS.

One of the key solutions is education and empowering people to be agents of change.

“Healthy production will come if the consumer ask for the healthy eating. And healthy eating will come if the consumer has the right education and information,” Di Leo said.

For instance, many do not see or know the link between food and climate change, he added.

In fact, a 2016 study found that there was a lack of awareness of the association between meat consumption and climate change and a resistance to the idea of reducing personal meat consumption.

“It’s a kind of change that needs a bottom-up approach,” Di Leo said.

Stordalen echoed Di Leo’s comments, calling for a global ‘dugnad’—a Norwegian word describing the act of a community uniting and working together to achieve a goal that will serve them all.

“The state of the global food system calls for new collaborative action,” she said.

“It’s time to officially ditch the saying that ‘the more cooks, the worse soup’ because we need everybody involved to serve our people and planet the right future.”

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Making Every Euro Count in the Fight Against Malnutritionhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/making-every-euro-count-fight-malnutrition/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=making-every-euro-count-fight-malnutrition http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/making-every-euro-count-fight-malnutrition/#comments Wed, 03 Oct 2018 14:23:12 +0000 Jose Graziano da Silva http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157946 More money, and better spent, is what we need to end hunger and malnutrition

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just as it’s not enough to buy seeds to assure a good harvest, allocating funds will not suffice to eradicate all forms of malnutrition. Achieving that goal lies in making sure that the public policies and actions we take are truly effective.

Graziano da Silva with a group of women who are participating in a vegetable-growing project in Borno State, north-eastern Nigeria. Credit: FAO/Carlos Laorden

By José Graziano da Silva
ROME, Oct 3 2018 (IPS)

Everybody wants to end hunger. That is what all UN-member countries stated when signing the 2030 Agenda for a better world: the second of its 17 goals aims at eradicating all forms of malnutrition (which include overweight, obesity or micronutrient deficiencies) and ensuring that everybody has access to nutritious and healthy foods.

Along with these good intentions, we have in recent decades seen real efforts and concrete commitments that have led to steady progress in this battle. Recent reports produced by FAO and other UN agencies, however, give us little cause for celebration. In 2017, the world was home to 821 million hungry people, almost 2.2 billion overweight people and 670 million obese adults (and this number is rising). On top of that, at least 1.5 billion people suffer from micronutrient deficiencies that undermine their health and lives.

What do we really need to do to eradicate all forms of malnutrition?

Governments can’t do it on their own, nor can those with deep pockets acting alone. The same applies to international agencies, NGOs, civil society and/or the private sector working. We really need to combine and align our efforts.

In the first place, we need to acknowledge that this battle should receive high priority. The fight against hunger should not slip down in the list of global priorities such as climate change, migrations or population growth.

Addressing those challenges must in no way mean that we put aside our efforts to guarantee every human’s fundamental right to food, especially as the latter has a strong impact on the other challenges.

Secondly, we need more funds. It takes money to make things happen and Governments —the real game-changers— need resources to pave the way towards environmentally, economically and socially sustainable food systems. With so many priorities arising, though, funding is not enough. (Some $24.7 billion were needed to address humanitarian emergencies in 2017 alone, according to UN estimates.)

Nevertheless, just as it’s not enough to buy seeds to assure a good harvest, allocating funds will not suffice to eradicate all forms of malnutrition. Achieving that goal lies in making sure that the public policies and actions we take are truly effective.

Investment effectiveness requires several preconditions: reliable and strong data that allow policymakers to make informed decisions and assess if things are really going in the right direction; qualified staff to put plans in practice; technical assistance and expertise…

In short, what’s needed is an enabling environment where funds can flourish and lead to significant progress. In other words, we do not just need to buy seeds, but to find fertile soil, prepare the ground, water the fields and take good care of them so that we gather big returns.

In this interconnected world, that is no task for anyone to do alone. Governments can’t do it on their own, nor can those with deep pockets acting alone. The same applies to international agencies, NGOs, civil society and/or the private sector working. We really need to combine and align our efforts. That is the aim, for example, of the FIRST Programme, which assists Governments to design policies and create environments where food and nutrition security can flourish.

In FIRST, an important partner like the European Union and FAO, join forces side by side with Government officials in around 30 countries (from Cambodia to Chad and from Honduras to Afghanistan).

Food production should be done in a way that is sustainable and generates dividends in other areas. Policies towards eradicating hunger need to address every element of the food system. For example, boosting Nile perch production and exports in Lake Victoria will have little positive effect on food security if the benefits of those activities do not reach local communities.

Likewise, giving Guatemalan family farmers technical and financial support will not contribute to alleviate undernourishment if it does not include a gender perspective and considers the challenges that female rural farmers face and their key role in their households’ nourishment. Similarly, focusing too much on producing staple foods like rice or forgetting to promote the availability of diverse and nutritious fresh foods will unlikely result in a better nutritional status.

Even when priorities pile up on our agendas, we must not leave aside food and nutrition, which lie at the heart of life, health and development. To be sure, we are equally obliged to make the most out of every euro we spend on this front, and ensure that it leads to sustainable and long-term positive effects that reach everybody, especially the most vulnerable. There is no time —nor money— to be wasted.

The post Making Every Euro Count in the Fight Against Malnutrition appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

More money, and better spent, is what we need to end hunger and malnutrition

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Local Communities in Mexico Show Ways to Fight Obesityhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/local-communities-mexico-show-ways-fight-obesity/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=local-communities-mexico-show-ways-fight-obesity http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/local-communities-mexico-show-ways-fight-obesity/#respond Tue, 02 Oct 2018 00:09:22 +0000 Emilio Godoy http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157913 Manuel Villegas is one of the peasant farmers who decided to start planting amaranth in Mexico, to complement their corn and bean crops and thus expand production for sale and self-consumption and, ultimately, contribute to improving the nutrition of their communities. “Amaranth arrived in this part of the country in 2009, and some farmers were […]

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A farmer harvests amaranth in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca. This grain, of which two of the varieties originated in Mexico, is part of the country's traditional diet and can help boost nutrition among Mexicans, who have been affected by skyrocketing consumption of junk food. Credit: Courtesy of Bridge to Community Health

A farmer harvests amaranth in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca. This grain, of which two of the varieties originated in Mexico, is part of the country's traditional diet and can help boost nutrition among Mexicans, who have been affected by skyrocketing consumption of junk food. Credit: Courtesy of Bridge to Community Health

By Emilio Godoy
MEXICO CITY, Oct 2 2018 (IPS)

Manuel Villegas is one of the peasant farmers who decided to start planting amaranth in Mexico, to complement their corn and bean crops and thus expand production for sale and self-consumption and, ultimately, contribute to improving the nutrition of their communities.

“Amaranth arrived in this part of the country in 2009, and some farmers were already growing it when I began to grow it in 2013. It’s growing, but slowly,” Villegas, who is coordinator of the non-governmental Amaranth Network in the Mixteca region, in the southern state of Oaxaca, told IPS.

This crop has produced benefits such as the organisation of farmers, processors and consumers, the obtaining of public funding, as well as improving the nutrition of both consumers and growers."There was an increase in availability and accessibility of overly-processed foods. The State failed to implement public prevention policies. Children live in an obesogenic environment (an environment that promotes gaining weight and is not conducive to weight loss). It's a vulnerable group and companies take advantage of that to increase their sales," -- Fiorella Espinosa

“We have made amaranth part of our daily diet. It improves the diet because of its nutritional qualities, combined with other high-protein seeds,” said Villegas, who lives in the rural area of the municipality of Tlaxiaco, with about 34,000 inhabitants.

The peasant farmers brought together by the network in their region plant some 40 hectares of amaranth, although the effects of climate change forced them to cut back production to 12 tons in 2017 and six this year, due to a drought affecting the area. To cover their self-consumption, they keep 10 percent of the annual harvest.

Native products such as amaranth, in addition to defending foods from the traditional Mexican diet, help to contain the advance of obesity, which has become an epidemic in this Latin American country of nearly 130 million people, with health, social and economic consequences.

The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) states in “The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2018,” published in August, that the prevalence of overweight among children under five fell from nine percent to 5.2 percent between 2012 and 2017. That means that the number of overweight children under that age fell from one million to 600,000.

On the other hand, the prevalence of obesity among the adult population (18 years and older) increased, from 26 percent to 28.4 percent. The number of obese adults went from 20.5 million to 24.3 million during the period.

The consequences of the phenomenon are also clear. One example is that mortality from diabetes type 2, the most common, climbed from 70.8 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants in 2013 to 84.7 in 2016, according to an update of indicators published in May by several institutions, including the health ministry.

Another impact reported in the same study is that deaths from high blood pressure went up from 16 per 100,000 inhabitants to 18.5.

Members of the Alliance for Food Health, a collective of organisations and academics, called in Mexico for better regulation of advertising of junk food aimed at children and of food and beverage labelling, during the launch of the report "A childhood hooked on obesity" in Mexico City in August. Credit: Emilio Godoy/IPS

Members of the Alliance for Food Health, a collective of organisations and academics, called in Mexico for better regulation of advertising of junk food aimed at children and of food and beverage labelling, during the launch of the report “A childhood hooked on obesity” in Mexico City in August. Credit: Emilio Godoy/IPS

But the most eloquent and worrying data is that one in three children is obese or overweight, according to a report published in August by the non-governmental Alliance for Food Health, a group of organisations and academics.

What lies behind

Specialists and activists agree that among the root causes of the phenomenon is the change in eating habits, where the traditional diet based on age-old products has gradually been replaced by junk food, high in sugar, salt, fats, artificial colorants and other ingredients, which is injected from childhood through exposure to poorly regulated advertising.

Government strategy

In 2013, the government established the National Strategy for the Prevention and Control of Overweight, Obesity and Diabetes.

Its measures include the promotion of healthy habits, the creation of the Mexican Observatory on Non-Communicable Diseases (OMENT), the timely identification of people with risk factors, taxes on sugary beverages and the establishment of a voluntary seal of nutritional quality.

But the only progress made so far has been the creation of the observatory and the tax on soft drinks, since neither the regulation of food labels or advertising has come about.

In 2014, the state-run Federal Commission for Protection against Sanitary Risks created guidelines for front labeling of food and beverages, but did so without the participation of experts and civil society organisations and without complying with international World Health Organisation (WHO) standards.

For this reason, the non-governmental The Power of Consumers took legal action in 2015, and the following year a federal judge ruled that the measures violated consumers' rights to health and information. The Supreme Court is now debating the future of labelling.

For Simón Barquera, an authority in nutrition research in the country, the solution is "complex" and requires "multiple actions.” "Society is responsible for attacking the causes of disease. The industry cannot interfere in public policy," he said.

The latest National Health and Nutrition Survey found low proportions of regular consumption of most recommended food groups, such as vegetables, fruits and legumes, in all population groups. For example, 40 percent of the calories children ages one to five eat come from over-processed foods.

For Fiorella Espinosa, a researcher on dietary health at the civil association The Power of Consumers, the liberalisation of trade in Mexico since the 1990s, the lack of regulation of advertising and nutritional labels of products, the displacement of native foods and the prioritisation of extensive farming over traditional farming are factors that led to the crisis.

“There was an increase in availability and accessibility of overly-processed foods. The State failed to implement public prevention policies. Children live in an obesogenic environment (an environment that promotes gaining weight and is not conducive to weight loss). It’s a vulnerable group and companies take advantage of that to increase their sales,” she told IPS.

The 2017 Food Sustainability Index, produced by the Italian non-governmental Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition Foundation (BCFN), showed that this country, the second-largest in terms of population and economy in Latin America, has indicators reflecting a prevalence of over-eating, low physical activity and inadequate dietary patterns.

The index, which ranks France first, followed by Japan and Germany, analyses 34 nations with respect to sustainable agriculture, nutritional challenges and food loss and waste.

Obesity “is an epidemic that cannot be solved by nutrition education alone. It has structural determinants, such as the political environment, international trade, the environment and culture. It has social and economic barriers,” Simón Barquera, director of the Nutrition and Health Research Centre at the state-run National Institute of Public Health, told IPS.

Therefore, the Alliance for Food Health proposes a comprehensive strategy against overweight and obesity, which includes a law that incorporates increased taxes on unhealthy products, adequate labelling, better regulation of advertising and promotion of breastfeeding, among other measures.

The contribution of lifesaver crops such as amaranth

The organisations dedicated to the issue also highlight the recovery underway in communities in several states of traditional crops such as amaranth, a plant present in local food for 5,000 years and highly appreciated in the past because its grain contains twice the protein of corn and rice in addition to being rich in vitamins.

“We are looking for ways to generate changes at the community level in agriculture, food and family economy, focused on the cultivation of amaranth. We have realised that there has been a devaluation of the countryside and its role in adequate nutrition,” said Mauricio Villar, director of Social Economy for the non-governmental organisation Bridge to Nutritional Health.

Villar, also the coordinator of the Liaison Group for the Promotion of Amaranth in Mexico ,explained to IPS that “we are increasing our appreciation of peasant life and production, with impacts at different levels on nutrition,” to correct bad eating habits.

But according to Yatziri Zepeda, founder of the non-governmental AliMente Project, these local experiences, no matter how valuable their contribution, are limited in scope.

“These initiatives may generate changes at the local level and address some of the problems, but they are not sufficient to protect the right to health, among others. Obesity is not a matter of individual decisions, but of public policy. It is a political issue, there are very important corporate interests. It is multicausal and systemic,” she told IPS.

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