Inter Press ServiceParliamentary Front Against Hunger: Food security for all – Inter Press Service http://www.ipsnews.net News and Views from the Global South Wed, 25 Apr 2018 09:53:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.6 El Salvador Forges Ahead in Fight Against Hungerhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2015/11/el-salvador-forges-ahead-in-fight-against-hunger/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=el-salvador-forges-ahead-in-fight-against-hunger http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/11/el-salvador-forges-ahead-in-fight-against-hunger/#respond Wed, 25 Nov 2015 15:04:18 +0000 Edgardo Ayala http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=143113 In the last 15 years, El Salvador has managed to reduce the proportion of hungry people living in extreme poverty by four percentage points. But they still represent 12.4 percent of the population, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). To speed up progress towards eradicating hunger, in 2012 lawmakers in this […]

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By Edgardo Ayala
SAN SALVADOR, Nov 25 2015 (IPS)

In the last 15 years, El Salvador has managed to reduce the proportion of hungry people living in extreme poverty by four percentage points. But they still represent 12.4 percent of the population, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

To speed up progress towards eradicating hunger, in 2012 lawmakers in this Central American country created the Salvadoran chapter of the Parliamentary Front Against Hunger, a Latin American initiative that emerged in 2009 with technical support from FAO.

The aim is to create a space where public authorities, with civil society participation, debate and promote laws and public policies aimed at bolstering food security and family farming, while guaranteeing the right to healthy, nutritional food, the coordinator of the Salvadoran Front, legislator Audelia López, told IPS.

Programmes such as one that links family farming and school feeding, the creation of school gardens to teach children about healthy eating, or a draft law on food sovereignty and security and nutrition are all initiatives that the local Parliamentary Front is pushing ahead.

In this video report, IPS shows some of the programmes, such as the latest on the school gardens.

 

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Searching for Nutrition in South Africa’s Food Mazehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2015/11/searching-for-nutrition-in-south-africas-food-maze/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=searching-for-nutrition-in-south-africas-food-maze http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/11/searching-for-nutrition-in-south-africas-food-maze/#respond Tue, 24 Nov 2015 09:24:16 +0000 Munyaradzi Makoni http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=143096 Every Tuesday, there is something unusually exciting at no 7 Cwango Crescent, The Business Place, in Philippi, near Cape Town.  Here, ​ dozens of chemically free green vegetable crate loads are visible. So are the unlabelled rows of empty packets. It’s the packing day. Trucks criss-cross Khayelitsha, Gugulethu, Philippi and Nyanga – all densely populated communities outside Cape Town […]

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Global Hunger and Undernutrition Could End by 2025http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/11/global-hunger-and-undernutrition-could-end-by-2025/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=global-hunger-and-undernutrition-could-end-by-2025 http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/11/global-hunger-and-undernutrition-could-end-by-2025/#comments Fri, 20 Nov 2015 22:44:59 +0000 Thalif Deen http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=143076 The United Nations aims to help eliminate hunger and undernutrition – described as two of “greatest scourges” facing humankind — by the year 2030. But the Washington-based International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) has launched an ambitious new initiative to help end global hunger by 2025 – five years ahead of the UN target. IFPRI […]

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By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, Nov 20 2015 (IPS)

The United Nations aims to help eliminate hunger and undernutrition – described as two of “greatest scourges” facing humankind — by the year 2030.

But the Washington-based International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) has launched an ambitious new initiative to help end global hunger by 2025 – five years ahead of the UN target.

Credit: Flickr IFPRI/Eliab Simpungwe (HarvestPlus)

Credit: Flickr IFPRI/Eliab Simpungwe (HarvestPlus)

IFPRI believes that its initiative, dubbed Compact2025, can help end global hunger by 2025 if countries replicate strategies that worked in places such as China, Brazil, and Thailand, where huge strides have been made toward reducing hunger.

“We can eliminate both hunger and undernutrition, and we can do so by 2025—which will also help end extreme poverty and will contribute to achieving multiple Sustainable Development Goals,” says IFPRI.

But there are significant knowledge gaps related to eliminating hunger and undernutrition that must first be filled for effective and cost-efficient action, IFPRI said.

Compact2025 is described as an inclusive global effort to support countries, institutions, and initiatives for the elimination of hunger and undernutrition by 2025.

It will work toward this goal by identifying pragmatic, innovative, and action-oriented strategies to address challenges on the ground while learning from stakeholders at all levels and from multiple sectors, including agriculture, nutrition, and health.

Compact2025 also plans to address these gaps by acting as a ‘Knowledge and Innovation Hub’ that will help guide countries in developing and implementing strategic actions for food security and nutrition.

Dr. Shenggen Fan, IFPRI’s director general, told IPS eliminating hunger and undernutrition in 10 years is a huge task, but it can be accomplished.

He pointed out that Brazil, China, Thailand, Peru, and Vietnam have each dramatically reduced hunger and undernutrition in a relatively short time.

At the Sixth Forum of the Parliamentary Front Against Hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean, held in the Peruvian capital of Lima last week, the final declaration adopted by over 60 legislators said Latin America and the Caribbean– of all of the world’s regions– had made the greatest progress in reducing hunger.

The region also reduced the proportion of hungry people by more than half, in the context of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which is fast moving towards its 2015 deadline by the end of December.

During the Nov. 15-17 Forum, delegates of the national chapters of the Parliamentary Front Against Hunger (PFH) also reasserted their determination to promote laws to “break the circle of poverty and enforce the right to food” in the region.

Dr Fan said learning from the experiences of the five Asian and Latin American countries, “and leveraging strong international and national commitments to end hunger and undernutrition, it is possible to accelerate progress even further, he added.

While not all the MDGs have been achieved, the world has made incredible progress in reducing extreme poverty and hunger, he noted.

In fact, he said, the target on reducing hunger was just narrowly missed, as the proportion of undernourished people in the developing regions has fallen by almost half since 1990, from 23.3 per cent in 1990–1992 to 12.9 per cent in 2014–2016.

IFPRI says Compact2025 will contribute to accelerating progress to end hunger and undernutrition and is fully supportive of SDG 2 (End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture).

Compact2025’s work will also support the achievement of many other SDGs (e.g. Goals 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere, and Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages).

The 2025 target relates to many of the SDGs because ending hunger and undernutrition are stepping stones to ending extreme poverty, said Dr Fan, who received the Hunger Hero Award from the World Food Programme (WFP) in 2014 in recognition of his commitment to, and leadership in, fighting hunger worldwide.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which were adopted by world leaders at a summit meeting in September, also include the eradication of poverty by 2030

To inform actions that lead to concrete results, Compact2025, through its Knowledge and Innovation (K&I) Hub, will provide policymakers and practitioners with context-specific, evidence-based advice on scaling up success stories to end hunger and undernutrition.

IFPRI said Compact2025 will also build the knowledge-base and promote innovations to help countries develop, scale up, and communicate policies and programmes for the biggest, most cost-effective impacts—and in doing so will help weed out ineffective or inefficient policies and prevent a duplication of efforts.

To build on existing momentum, Compact2025 will complement established networks such as Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) and initiatives such as the Zero Hunger Challenge.

Additionally, it will also work with those who are already dedicated to achieving this goal by 2025 such as Bangladesh, Ethiopia, and Rwanda at the national level; the African Union at the regional level; and the European Commission, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and World Food Programme (WFP) at the institutional level.

Compact2025 will contribute with the following approaches and activities:

• Serving as a Knowledge and Innovation Hub for stakeholders at all levels. • Sharing experiences, problems, and solutions within and across countries. Supporting evidence-based policies and experiments • Using pilot projects and policy experiments to strengthen the design, sequencing, and scale-up of successful policies and strategies.

• Promoting monitoring and evaluation systems and regulatory mechanisms for effective impact. Mobilizing a data revolution • Providing reliable and timely data on relevant indicators for evidence-based policymaking. • Collaborating to significantly improve data collection and analytical capacity in developing countries. Facilitating country-led strategies and investments • Facilitating implementation of country policies and strategies at national and subnational levels.

• Adapting successful food security and nutrition policies to local contexts. Strengthening inclusive and accountable partnerships • Engaging with established and new players including emerging countries, the private sector, and philanthropic organizations. • Developing country and global level accountability mechanisms for tracking progress.

Asked how much of funding is needed to achieve the goal of eradicating hunger, Dr Fan said that according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), investing 50 billion dollars per year can end hunger by 2025 (Schmidhuber and Bruinsma 2011).

The World Bank et al. estimate that 50 billion dollars over the next 10 years for a package of micronutrient interventions can help meet global stunting targets by 2025.

Additionally, IFPRI research found that investing in 100 dollars per child, or 75 billion dollars per year, can help reduce child stunting in four years (Hoddinott 2013). These estimates are just a fraction of the annual SDG funding requirement of trillions of dollars.

The writer can be contacted at thalifdeen@aol.com

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Bewildering Biodiversity – A Success Story of Food Security for Indigenous Peoples in Indiahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2015/11/bewildering-biodiversity-a-success-story-of-food-security-for-indigenous-peoples-in-india/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=bewildering-biodiversity-a-success-story-of-food-security-for-indigenous-peoples-in-india http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/11/bewildering-biodiversity-a-success-story-of-food-security-for-indigenous-peoples-in-india/#comments Fri, 20 Nov 2015 12:58:06 +0000 Malini Shankar http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=143067 The 2013 National Food Security Act of the Government of India seeks, according to its preamble, to “provide for food and nutritional security by ensuring access to adequate quantity of quality food at affordable prices to people”. Despite rapid economic growth and gains in reducing poverty, India has with among the highest levels of hunger […]

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By Malini Shankar
CHIDAMBARAM TALUQ, CUDDALORE DISTRICT, India, Nov 20 2015 (IPS)

The 2013 National Food Security Act of the Government of India seeks, according to its preamble, to “provide for food and nutritional security by ensuring access to adequate quantity of quality food at affordable prices to people”.

Despite rapid economic growth and gains in reducing poverty, India has with among the highest levels of hunger and malnutrition in the world.

Although the National Food Security Act is crucial for the poor, it is especially critical for the persistently excluded and Indigenous Peoples of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, as the Irula tribal community in the northern districts of Tamil Nadu, a state in south-eastern India.

The Biodiversity Act 2002, the National Disaster Management Act 2005, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005, the Forest Rights Act 2006, and the Food Security Act 2013 have helped the near starving indigenous community of Irulas overcome lack of livelihood and food security, and has helped in augmenting conservation of biodiversity.

“A very important change which has taken place in our country in the last ten to fifteen years… is shift from reappraisal approach to rights approach. The Right to Food. The Right to Education. The Right to Employment. The right to your biodiversity” said Prof. Mankombu Sambasivan Swaminathan, universally known as “Indian Father of Green Revolution” for his leadership and success in introducing and further developing high-yielding varieties of wheat in India and former member of the Upper House of the Indian Parliament.

 

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Latin American Legislators Find New Paths to Fight Hungerhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2015/11/latin-american-legislators-find-new-paths-to-fight-hunger/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=latin-american-legislators-find-new-paths-to-fight-hunger http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/11/latin-american-legislators-find-new-paths-to-fight-hunger/#respond Thu, 19 Nov 2015 22:40:02 +0000 Aramis Castro and Milagros Salazar http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=143061 With eight specific commitments aimed at pushing through laws and policies on food security and sovereignty, family farming and school feeding programmes, legislators from 17 countries closed the Sixth Forum of the Parliamentary Front Against Hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean. During the Nov. 15-17 Forum in the Peruvian capital, the delegates of the […]

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Peruvian lawmaker Jaime Delgado reads out the final declaration of the Sixth Forum of the Parliamentary Front Against Hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean, in Lima. From left to right: John Preissing, FAO representative in Peru; Ecuadorean lawmaker María Augusta Calle; and Uruguayan legislator Bertha Sanseverino, with other participants in the meeting. Credit: Aramís Castro/IPS

Peruvian lawmaker Jaime Delgado reads out the final declaration of the Sixth Forum of the Parliamentary Front Against Hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean, in Lima. From left to right: John Preissing, FAO representative in Peru; Ecuadorean lawmaker María Augusta Calle; and Uruguayan legislator Bertha Sanseverino, with other participants in the meeting. Credit: Aramís Castro/IPS

By Aramis Castro and Milagros Salazar
LIMA, Nov 19 2015 (IPS)

With eight specific commitments aimed at pushing through laws and policies on food security and sovereignty, family farming and school feeding programmes, legislators from 17 countries closed the Sixth Forum of the Parliamentary Front Against Hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean.

During the Nov. 15-17 Forum in the Peruvian capital, the delegates of the national chapters of the Parliamentary Front Against Hunger (PFH) reasserted their determination to promote laws to “break the circle of poverty and enforce the right to food” in the region.

The more than 60 legislators who took part in the Forum, including guests from Africa and Asia, stated in the final declaration that of all of the world’s regions, Latin America and the Caribbean had made the greatest progress in reducing hunger, cutting the proportion of hungry people by more than half, in the context of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which had a 2015 deadline. “After six years of debate, we understand the concept of food sovereignty to mean eliminating injustice to preserve the environment and biodiversity.” -- María Augusta Calle

But after stressing these results, John Preissing, representative of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Peru, called on the legislators not to be content “with averages” that hide inequalities between and within countries.

He also stressed that “it will be much more difficult” for the region to reduce the proportion of hungry people to two or three percent, than what they already managed to do: to cut the percentage from 32 to seven percent.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, some 37 million of the region’s 600 million people are still hungry, of a total of 795 million hungry people around the world, the Forum participants were told.

The final declaration emphasised that it is essential that the PFH work together with the governments of each country to create programmes and pass laws aimed at eradicating hunger, and to promote the three main areas for doing so: food security and sovereignty, family farming, and school feeding.

To advance in these three complementary areas, eight specific accords were reached, including the need for PFH legislators to participate in the debate on public budget funds, in order to guarantee that governments finance programmes against hunger.

The final declaration included the conclusions of the working groups on these three central themes, where one of the key issues was the importance of promoting public policies to benefit small farmers.

In another agreement, the lawmakers committed themselves to backing a new concept of food sovereignty.

“After six years of debate, we understand the concept of food sovereignty to mean eliminating injustice to preserve the environment and biodiversity,” Ecuadorean lawmaker María Augusta Calle, who the Forum ratified in her post as regional coordinator of the PFH, told IPS.

Members of the Parliamentary Front Against Hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean sign the final declaration of the Sixth Forum at the end of the Nov. 15-17 gathering in Lima, Peru. Credit: Aramís Castro/IPS

Members of the Parliamentary Front Against Hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean sign the final declaration of the Sixth Forum at the end of the Nov. 15-17 gathering in Lima, Peru. Credit: Aramís Castro/IPS

The next step, according to Calle, is to deliver the accords – especially the ones linked to food sovereignty – to the heads of state and government of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), during the summit to be held in January 2016 in Ecuador.

“They asked us to draw up the concept of food sovereignty that has been debated here,” said Calle.

The parliamentarians also agreed to support CELAC’s plan for its member countries to reach the goal of “zero hunger” by 2025 – five years before the deadline established by the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) approved by the international community in September.

Uruguayan legislator Bertha Sanseverino, the subregional coordinator of the PFH in South America, told IPS that the Forum established long-term commitments to “eradicate hunger by 2025” in the region.

She said that meeting this goal will require “a complex effort to design public policies and laws.”

One hurdle standing in the way of the many initiatives launched by the PFH national chapters, said Sanseverino, is the inevitable and democratic renewal of parliament. “Sometimes they have a good Parliamentary Front, but those legislators serve out their terms, and the following year you come up against the need to put the Front together again,” she said.

The FAO’s Preissing said eradicating hunger in the region is “an uphill task….But we can do it, there is evidence here, there are commitments,” he added optimistically.

The Forum expressed its support for small-scale community agriculture, as well as traditional knowledge and practices of Latin America’s indigenous peoples, as instruments of healthy, diverse diets.

It also warned about a food-related problem that is new in the region, and has begun to affect the population of Latin America – the junk food craze, which is bringing problems that did not previously exist, like widespread obesity.

Before the Sixth Forum came to an end, all of the participants sent a communiqué to the president of the host country, Ollanta Humala, urging him to approve the regulations for the bill on the promotion of healthy eating, which was signed into law in May 2013, and whose implementation has been blocked by his failure to do so.

“This law has been a pioneer in Latin America, and they (the participants in the Forum) are surprised that since we were pioneers, the law has not been codified,” the coordinator of the Peruvian chapter of the PFH, Jaime Delgado, told IPS, pointing out that the law had served as a model for countries like Ecuador.

He added that the PFH is trying to make sure that the 2016 budget about to be approved includes funds earmarked for the fight against poverty, while he complained that “there are programmes that do not benefit small farmers,” who are the main link in the country’s food security chain.

Next year, the members of the regional front will meet in Mexico, in a new edition of the parliamentary forum.

Edited by Estrella Gutiérrez/Translated by Stephanie Wildes

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Latin America to Push for Food Security Laws as a Blochttp://www.ipsnews.net/2015/11/latin-america-to-push-for-food-security-laws-as-a-bloc/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=latin-america-to-push-for-food-security-laws-as-a-bloc http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/11/latin-america-to-push-for-food-security-laws-as-a-bloc/#respond Tue, 17 Nov 2015 21:41:22 +0000 Milagros Salazar and Aramis Castro http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=143030 Lawmakers in the Parliamentary Front Against Hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean decided at a regional meeting to work as a bloc for the passage of laws on food security – an area in which countries in the region have show uneven progress. The Nov. 15-17 Sixth Forum of the Parliamentary Front Against Hunger […]

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A panel in the Sixth Forum of the Parliamentary Front Against Hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean, held Nov. 15-17. Second from the right is indigenous leader Ruth Buendía, who represented rural communities in the Forum. Credit: Aramís Castro/IPS

A panel in the Sixth Forum of the Parliamentary Front Against Hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean, held Nov. 15-17. Second from the right is indigenous leader Ruth Buendía, who represented rural communities in the Forum. Credit: Aramís Castro/IPS

By Milagros Salazar and Aramis Castro
LIMA, Nov 17 2015 (IPS)

Lawmakers in the Parliamentary Front Against Hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean decided at a regional meeting to work as a bloc for the passage of laws on food security – an area in which countries in the region have show uneven progress.

The Nov. 15-17 Sixth Forum of the Parliamentary Front Against Hunger (PFH) in Lima, Peru drew more than 60 legislators from 17 countries in the region and guest delegations from parliaments in Africa, Asia and Europe.

The coordinator of the regional Front, Ecuadorean legislator María Augusta Calle, told IPS that the challenge is to “harmonise” the region’s laws to combat poverty and hunger in the world’s most unequal region.

Calle added that a number of laws on food security and sovereignty have been passed in Latin America, and the challenge now is to standardise the legislation in all of the countries participating in the PFH to strengthen policies that bolster family farming.“We have reduced hunger by 50 percent (since 1990), but this is still insufficient. We cannot continue to live in a world where food is a business and not a right. It cannot be possible that 80 percent of those who produce the food themselves suffer from hunger.” -- María Augusta Calle

In Latin America, 81 percent of domestically consumed food products come from small farmers, who guarantee food security in the region, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), which has advised the PFH since its creation in 2009.

Twelve of the 17 Latin American countries participating in the PFH already have food security and sovereignty laws, Calle said. But it has not been an easy task, she added, pointing out that several of the laws were approved only after long delays.

During the inauguration of the Sixth Forum, she said the region has reduced hunger “by 50 percent (since 1990), but this is still insufficient. We cannot continue to live in a world where food is a business and not a right. It cannot be possible that 80 percent of those who produce the food themselves suffer from hunger.”

The fight against hunger is an uphill task, and the forum’s host country is a clear illustration of this.

In Peru, the draft law on food security was only approved by Congress on Nov. 12, after two years of debate. The legislature finally reacted, just three days before the Sixth Forum began in the country’s capital. But the bill still has to be signed into law and codified by the executive branch, in order to be put into effect.

“How can it be possible for a government to put forth objections to a law on food security?” Peruvian Vice President Marisol Espinoza asked during the opening of the Sixth Forum.

Espinoza, who left the governing Peruvian Nationalist Party in October, took the place of President Ollanta Humala, who had been invited to inaugurate the Sixth Forum.

Display of native varieties of potatoes at a food fair during the Sixth Forum of the Parliamentary Front Against Hunger held Nov. 15-17 in Lima. Defending native products forms part of the right to food promoted by the legislators from Latin America and the Caribbean. Credit: Aramís Castro/IPS

Display of native varieties of potatoes at a food fair during the Sixth Forum of the Parliamentary Front Against Hunger held Nov. 15-17 in Lima. Defending native products forms part of the right to food promoted by the legislators from Latin America and the Caribbean. Credit: Aramís Castro/IPS

The coordinator of the Peruvian chapter of the PFH, Jaime Delgado, told IPS that he hopes the government will sign the new food security bill into law without setting forth observations.

Indigenous leader Ruth Buendía, who took part in the Sixth Forum in representation of rural communities in Peru, said the government should pass laws to protect peasant farmers because they are paid very little for their crops, even though they supply the markets in the cities.

“What the government has to do is regulate this, for the citizens,” Buendía, who belongs to the Asháninka people, told IPS. “Why do we have a government that is not going to defend us? As we say in our community: ‘why do I have a father (the government)?’ If they want investment, ok, but they have to regulate.”

Another controversial question in the case of Peru is the more than two-year delay in the codification and implementation of the law on healthy food for children and adolescents, passed in May 2013, which requires that companies that produce food targeting this age group accurately label the ingredients.

Congressman Delgado said food companies are lobbying against the law, which cannot be put into effect until it is codified.

“It would be pathetic if after so much sacrifice to get this law passed, the government failed to codify it because of the pressure from business interests,” said Delgado.

He said that in Peru, over 200 million dollars are invested in advertising for junk food every year, according to a 2012 study by the Radio and Television Consultative Council.

Calle, from Ecuador, said the members of the PFH decided to call for the entrance into effect of the Peruvian law, in the Sixth Forum’s final declaration.

“The 17 countries (that belong to the PFH) are determined to see the law on healthy food codified in Peru. We believe it is indispensable. It is a wonderful law,” said the legislator.

Peasant farmers from the Andes highlands dancing during one of the opening acts at the Sixth Forum of the Parliamentary Front Against Hunger held Nov. 15-17 in Lima. More than 80 percent of the food consumed in the region is produced by small farmers, while the same percentage of hungry people are paradoxically found in rural areas. Credit: Aramís Castro/IPS

Peasant farmers from the Andes highlands dancing during one of the opening acts at the Sixth Forum of the Parliamentary Front Against Hunger held Nov. 15-17 in Lima. More than 80 percent of the food consumed in the region is produced by small farmers, while the same percentage of hungry people are paradoxically found in rural areas. Credit: Aramís Castro/IPS

She explained that in her country food and beverage companies have been required to use labels showing the ingredients, despite the opposition from the business sector.

“In Ecuador we have had a fabulous experience (regarding labels for junk food) which we would like businesses here in Peru to understand and not be afraid of,” Calle said.

The regional coordinator of the PFH said that to address the problem of food being seen as business rather than a right, “we need governments and parliaments committed to the public, rather than to transnational corporations.”

Another country that has made progress is Brazil, where laws in favour of the right to food include one that requires that at least 30 percent of the food that goes into school meals is purchased from local small farmers, Nazareno Fonseca, a member of the PFH regional consultative council, told IPS.

Calle said Brazil’s efforts to boost food security, in the context of its “Zero Hunger” programme, marked a watershed in Latin America.

The PFH regional coordinator noted that the person responsible for implementing the programme in the crucial first two years (2003-2004) as extraordinary food security minister was José Graziano da Silva, director general of FAO since 2011.

Spanish Senator José Miguel Camacho said it is important for legislators from Latin America and the Caribbean to act as a bloc because “there is still a long way to go, but these forums contribute to that goal.”

The commitments in the Sixth Forum’s final declaration will focus on three main areas: food security, where the PFH is working on a single unified framework law; school feeding; and efforts to fight overnutrition, obesity and junk food.

Peru’s health minister, Aníbal Velásquez, said the hope is that “the commitments approved at the Sixth Forum will translate into laws.”

And the president of the Peruvian Congress, Luis Iberico, said people did not enjoy true citizenship if basic rights were not guaranteed and hunger and poverty still existed.

The indigenous leader Buendía, for her part, asked the PFH legislators for a greater presence of the authorities in rural areas, in order for political declarations to produce tangible results.

Edited by Estrella Gutiérrez/Translated by Stephanie Wildes

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Preserving Mangroves Provides Protection and Food Securityhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2015/11/preserving-mangroves-provides-protection-and-food-security/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=preserving-mangroves-provides-protection-and-food-security http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/11/preserving-mangroves-provides-protection-and-food-security/#respond Fri, 13 Nov 2015 18:40:54 +0000 Malini Shankar http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=142994 At the dawn of Indian Independence, Government of India’s commitment to food security – in addition to the impact of the Bengal Famine – was haunted by corruption, hoarding and mismanagement, resulting in ongoing food insecurity among the indigenous people in Tamilnadu and Orissa that lasted for more than five decades, When the Asian Tsunami […]

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By Malini Shankar
CHIDAMBARAM TALUQ, CUDDALORE DISTRICT, India, Nov 13 2015 (IPS)

At the dawn of Indian Independence, Government of India’s commitment to food security – in addition to the impact of the Bengal Famine – was haunted by corruption, hoarding and mismanagement, resulting in ongoing food insecurity among the indigenous people in Tamilnadu and Orissa that lasted for more than five decades,

When the Asian Tsunami struck the coast of Tamilnadu in December 2004, the Irulas, who were teetering on the verge of starvation with their hunter gatherer lifestyle, were stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea on the coastal forests of the Pichavaram mangrove forests in Chidambaram Taluq (11°25’45.55″N 79°47’0.23″E) of Cuddalore district. The mangroves themselves, with their aerial roots, had reduced the power of the killer waves, saving the lives of thousands of Irulas. Despite that, their exposure to starvation widened because the tsunami deluged their rice paddies with salt water and the Irulas’ hunting and gathering skills were unable to produce more than one or two days’ of food each week.

“The aerial roots of the mangroves regulate tides and nurture the silt in the coastal ecosystem thereby sustaining diverse varieties of fish and crops” says Dr. Gyanamurthy, a marine biologist at the Pichavaram field station of the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) in Pichavaram, Cuddalore district. They fix nitrogen in the soil thus supporting cultivation of saline resistant crops like cereals, pulses, lentils and even spawn unparalleled fish diversity in the creeks offering the cleanest mechanism of sustainable eco-friendly food security to the marginalised outcastes. But such scientific documentation nevertheless needed administrative support and legal regimen to administer food security for the impoverished and marginalised indigenous people.

 

The enactment of the Forest Rights Act the Biodiversity Act Forest Rights Act, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, the Food Security Act and the National Disaster Management Act together have trickled down to provide food and livelihood security for the weakest sections of society. In an exclusive interview with IPS, Professor M.S. Swaminathan, a former parliamentarian who is a leader in India’s Green Revolution and founder of the MSSRF, said: “The Forest Rights Act provides an opportunity for combining conservation with livelihood security; the National Food Security Act 2013 which makes the usual access to food a fundamental right for nearly 70 – 80 per cent of our population; and the Biodiversity Act provides a method by which those who conserve biodiversity are given some kind of recognition. We have in the national plan priority protection, the Farmers’ Rights Act. For the first time in the world there is an Act which combines farmers and builders’ rights in the one Act. The National Food Security Act, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and various other Acts which have come (into force) in recent times, they all are reinforcing each other”.

India, as one of the stake holders in the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation’s CFS (Committee on Food Security), was obliged to promote policy coherence in line with the Voluntary Guidelines for the Progressive Realization of the Right to Adequate Food in the Context of National Food Security, and in that context, reaffirms the importance of nutrition as an essential element of food security. It followed the introduction of the Food Security Bill in the Indian Parliament in 2013 and enactment in September that year.

India is the only country to have taken up a slew of legislative measures to combat hunger. “The Food Security Act in India is perhaps the singular and greatest legislative contribution of India to humanity in terms of food security,” said Prof. M.S. Swaminathan. “The Biodiversity Act propagates plant and animal genetics thereby assuring the farmers’ livelihood security. The Forest Rights Act protects the right to life and livelihoods of forest dwelling tribes assuring the marginalised forest dwellers nutrition and food security along with biodiversity conservation. The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act assures the rural populace of a minimum standard of wages and minimum period of employment.”,

“Further, the Disaster Management Act lends state support and allows officers to take expedient legal measures to combat hunger during exigencies, to reduce disaster risk in the aftermath of future calamities,” he said.

Two elements are fundamental in order to make substantial and rapid progress towards global food security: coherence and convergence among policies and programmes of countries, donors and other stakeholders when addressing the underlying causes of hunger, and the recognition of the human rights dimensions of food security.

The Right to Food Team supports government, parliamentarians, civil society organizations and other stakeholders with the implementation of the Right to Food Guidelines in their work. The Right to Food Team provides technical and capacity-building assistance in the areas of assessment, institutional analysis, policy dialogue and monitoring; all of which are relevant for the right to adequate food.

But the Asian Tsunami was quite literally a watershed in many areas of governance. The Collector of Cuddalore district, G.S. Bedi, an officer of the Indian Administrative Service of the Tamilnadu cadre, included these half starving and traumatised survivors of the Asian Tsunami in the Scheduled Tribe List. Once included the Irulas were mentored about the exercise of their rights by NGOs like the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation and BEDROC among others. MSSRF also took up livelihoods training programmes to offer alternate livelihood options to the Irulas. MSSRF imparted training in crab trapping, net fishing, sustainable eco-friendly aquaculture, net making, boat building and allied activities making the tribe self- reliant in livelihood security and offering and food security.

Text and pictures by Malini Shankar

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Latin American Legislators, a Battering Ram in the Fight Against Hungerhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2015/11/latin-american-legislators-a-battering-ram-in-the-fight-against-hunger/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=latin-american-legislators-a-battering-ram-in-the-fight-against-hunger http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/11/latin-american-legislators-a-battering-ram-in-the-fight-against-hunger/#respond Wed, 11 Nov 2015 16:24:36 +0000 Marianela Jarroud http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=142970 Lawmakers in Latin America are joining forces to strengthen institutional frameworks that sustain the fight against hunger in a region that, despite being dubbed “the next global breadbasket”, still has more than 34 million undernourished people. The legislators, grouped in national fronts, “are political leaders and orient public opinion, legislate, and sustain and promote public […]

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A girl in traditional festive dress from Bolivia’s highlands region displays a basket of fruit during a fair in her school in central La Paz. Fruit is the foundation of the new school meal diet adopted in the municipality, which puts a priority on natural food produced by small local farmers in the highlands. The alliance between family farming and school feeding is extending throughout Latin America thanks to laws put into motion by the Parliamentary Front Against Hunger. Credit: Franz Chávez/IPS

A girl in traditional festive dress from Bolivia’s highlands region displays a basket of fruit during a fair in her school in central La Paz. Fruit is the foundation of the new school meal diet adopted in the municipality, which puts a priority on natural food produced by small local farmers in the highlands. The alliance between family farming and school feeding is extending throughout Latin America thanks to laws put into motion by the Parliamentary Front Against Hunger. Credit: Franz Chávez/IPS

By Marianela Jarroud
SANTIAGO, Nov 11 2015 (IPS)

Lawmakers in Latin America are joining forces to strengthen institutional frameworks that sustain the fight against hunger in a region that, despite being dubbed “the next global breadbasket”, still has more than 34 million undernourished people.

The legislators, grouped in national fronts, “are political leaders and orient public opinion, legislate, and sustain and promote public policies for food security and the right to food,” said Ricardo Rapallo, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Food Security Officer in this region.

The members of the Parliamentary Front Against Hunger also “allot budget funds, monitor, oversee and follow up on government policies,” Rapallo told IPS at FAO regional headquarters in Santiago, Chile.

A series of successful public policies based on a broad cross-cutting accord between civil society, governments and legislatures enabled Latin America and the Caribbean to teach the world a lesson by cutting in half the proportion of hungry people in the region between 1990 and 2015.“The Parliamentary Front Against Hunger is a key actor in the implementation of CELAC’s Food Security Plan, for the construction of public systems that recognise the right to food.”-- Raúl Benítez, regional director of FAO

But the 34.3 million people still hungry in this region of 605 million are in need of a greater effort, in order for Latin America to live up to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which is aimed at achieving zero hunger in the world.

The Sixth Forum of the Parliamentary Front Against Hunger (PFH), to be held in Lima Nov. 15-17, will seek to forge ahead in the implementation of the “plan for food security, nutrition and hunger eradication in the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) by 2025.”

The plan, which sets targets for 2025, is designed to strengthen institutional legal frameworks for food and nutritional security, raising the human right to food to the highest legal status, among other measures.

“The Parliamentary Front Against Hunger is a key actor in the implementation of CELAC’s Food Security Plan, for the construction of public systems that recognise the right to food,” the regional director of FAO, Raúl Benítez, told IPS.

The PFH was created in 2009 with the participation of three countries. Six years later, “there are 15 countries that have a strong national parliamentary front recognised by the national Congress of the country, which involves parliamentarians of different political stripes, all of whom are committed to the fight against hunger,” Rapallo said.

As a result, “laws on family farming have been passed, in Argentina and Peru, and in the Dominican Republic there are draft laws set to be approved. To these is added the food labeling law in Ecuador,” the expert said, to illustrate.

Bolivia sets an example

In Bolivia, the School Feeding Law in the Framework of Food Security and the Plural Economy, passed in December 2014, is at the centre of the fight against poverty in an integral fashion, Fernando Ferreira, the head of the national Parliamentary Front for Food Sovereignty and Good Living, told IPS in La Paz.

This model, which draws on the successful programme that has served school breakfasts based on natural local products in La Paz since 2000, is now being implemented in the country’s 347 municipalities.

The farmer “produces natural foods, sells part to the municipal government for distribution in school breakfasts, and sells the rest in the local community,” said Ferreira, describing the cycle that combines productive activity, employment, nutrition and family income generation.

The school breakfast programme has broad support among teachers because it boosts student performance and participation in class, Germán Silvetti, the principal of the República de Cuba primary school in the centre of La Paz, told IPS.

“They didn’t used to care, but now they demand their meals,” Silvetti said. “Some kids come to school without eating breakfast, so the meal we serve is important for their nutrition.”

In the past, students didn’t like Andean grains like quinoa. But María Inés Flores, a teacher, told IPS she managed to persuade them with an interesting anecdote: “astronauts who go to the moon eat quinoa – and if we follow their example we’ll make it to space,” she said to the children, who now eat it with enthusiasm.

Appealing to the appetites of the 145,000 students served by the school breakfast programme is a daily challenge, but one that has had satisfactory results, such as the reduction of anemia from 37 to two percent in the last 15 years, Gabriela Aro, one of the creators of the programme and the head of the municipal government’s Nutrition Unit, told IPS.

Authorities in Bolivia say the government’s “Vivir Bien” or “Good Living” programme will reduce the proportion of people in extreme poverty which, according to estimates from different national and international institutions, stands at 18 percent of the country’s 11 million people.

In the Mexican Congress, lawmakers with the Parliamentary Front Against Hunger are pushing through laws that boost food security and sovereignty, to guarantee “the right to sufficient nutritional, quality food” that was established in the constitution in 2011. Credit: Emilio Godoy/ IPS

In the Mexican Congress, lawmakers with the Parliamentary Front Against Hunger are pushing through laws that boost food security and sovereignty, to guarantee “the right to sufficient nutritional, quality food” that was established in the constitution in 2011. Credit: Emilio Godoy/ IPS

Mexico, another case

In Mexico, a nation of 124 million people, meanwhile, poverty has grown in the last three years, revealing shortcomings in the strategies against hunger, which legislators are trying to influence, with limited results.

“Legislators must be more involved in following up on this, one of the most basic issues,” Senator Angélica de la Peña, coordinator of the Mexican chapter of the Parliamentary Front Against Hunger, told IPS in Mexico City. “Even if we define budgets and programmes, they continue to be resistant to making this a priority.”

There are 55.3 million people in poverty in Mexico, according to official figures from this year, and over 27 million malnourished people.

The increase in poverty reflects the weaknesses of the National Crusade Against Hunger, the flagship initiative of conservative President Enrique Peña Nieto, which targets undernourished people living in extreme poverty.

The Crusade is concentrated in 400 of Mexico’s 2,438 municipalities, involves 70 federal programmes, and hopes to reach 7.4 million hungry people – 3.7 million in urban areas and the rest in the countryside.

The Senate has not yet approved a “general law on the human right to adequate food”, which was put in motion by the Parliamentary Front and involves the implementation of a novel constitutional reform, which established in 2011 that “everyone has a right to sufficient nutritional, quality food, to be guaranteed by the state.”

The draft law will create a National Food Policy and National Food Programme, besides providing for emergency food aid.

But in spite of the limitations, Mexico’s social assistance programmes do make a difference, albeit small, for millions of people.

Since February, Blanca Pérez has received 62 dollars every two months, granted by the Pension Programme for the elderly (65 and older), which forms part of the National Crusade Against Hunger.

“It helps me buy medicines and cover other expenses. But it is a small amount for people our age – it would be better if it was every month,” this mother of seven told IPS. She lives in the town of Amecameca, 58 km southeast of Mexico City, where half of the 48,000 inhabitants live in poverty.

Pérez, who helps her daughter out in a small grocery store, is also covered by the Popular Insurance scheme, a federal government programme that provides free, universal healthcare. “These programmes are good, but they should give more support to people like me, who struggle so much,” she said.

Two urgent regional needs

Above and beyond the progress made, Rapallo said Latin America today has two urgent needs: reduce the number of hungry people in the region to zero while confronting the problem of overnutrition – another form of malnutrition.

Overweight and obesity “are a public health challenge, a hurdle to national development, and a moral requisite that we must address,” said Rapallo.

In that sense, he added, “parliamentarians are essential” to bring about public policies that contribute to good nutrition of the population and their growing demands.

“There are parliamentarians that are real leaders in their respective countries. But if all of this were not backed by a strong civil society that puts the issue firmly on the agenda, we wouldn’t be able to talk about results,” he said.

With reporting by Emilio Godoy in Mexico City and Franz Chávez in La Paz.

Edited by Estrella Gutiérrez/Translated by Stephanie Wildes

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School Meals Bolster Family Farming in Brazilhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2015/11/school-meals-bolster-family-farming-in-brazil/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=school-meals-bolster-family-farming-in-brazil http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/11/school-meals-bolster-family-farming-in-brazil/#respond Mon, 09 Nov 2015 21:04:38 +0000 Mario Osava http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=142946 “That law should have existed since the end of slavery, which threw slaves into the street without offering them adequate conditions for working and producing, turning them into semi-slaves,” said Brazilian farmer Idevan Correa. The law he was referring to, which was passed in 2009, requires that at least 30 percent of the funds that […]

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Children between the ages of five and seven eating lunch in the João Baptista Cáffaro School cafetería in the impoverished Engenho Velho neighbourhood in the city of Itaboraí, 45 km from Rio de Janeiro. Credit: Mario Osava/IPS

Children between the ages of five and seven eating lunch in the João Baptista Cáffaro School cafetería in the impoverished Engenho Velho neighbourhood in the city of Itaboraí, 45 km from Rio de Janeiro. Credit: Mario Osava/IPS

By Mario Osava
ITABORAÍ, Brazil, Nov 9 2015 (IPS)

“That law should have existed since the end of slavery, which threw slaves into the street without offering them adequate conditions for working and producing, turning them into semi-slaves,” said Brazilian farmer Idevan Correa.

The law he was referring to, which was passed in 2009, requires that at least 30 percent of the funds that municipal governments receive from the National Fund for the Development of Education go towards the purchase of food produced by local family farmers.

The formula is one of those discoveries that later seem obvious, self-evident, normal.

Besides guaranteeing small farmers an important market for their produce, “it improved the quality of the food,” the mother of two students, Jaqueline Lameira, who represents families on the Itaboraí School Feeding Council, which oversees the quality of school meals, told IPS.

Itaboraí, a municipality of 230,000 people in the southeast state of Rio de Janeiro, 11 percent of whose residents are rural, dedicates more than the required minimum.

Over 40 percent of school breakfasts and lunches served in the municipal schools are made up of food produced by local small farmers, said Inaiá Figueiredo, in charge of nutrition in the city government’s Secretariat of Agriculture, Supplies and Fishing.

That proportion was just seven percent when the current municipal administration took office in 2012, she told IPS.

The food offered in the school meals was diversified, with a larger proportion of fresh produce, including typical local vegetables that are highly nutritious but not widely consumed, she explained, adding that each meal includes at least three kinds of vegetables.

“For dessert there’s fruit, never candy, and the juice doesn’t have sugar, but locally produced honey,” she said.

School cook Penha Maria Flausina opens the bags of fresh fruit and vegetables recently delivered from local family farms in the João Baptista Cáffaro municipal school, which serves 500 primary students in a poor neighborhood in Itaboraí, a city in southeast Brazil. Credit: Mario Osava/IPS

School cook Penha Maria Flausina opens the bags of fresh fruit and vegetables recently delivered from local family farms in the João Baptista Cáffaro municipal school, which serves 500 primary students in a poor neighborhood in Itaboraí, a city in southeast Brazil. Credit: Mario Osava/IPS

“The kids eat everything, they ask for seconds; there’s one who only comes to school because of the meals,” Penha Maria Flausina, the cook at the João Baptista Caffaro School in a poor neighbourhood of Itaboraí told IPS, laughing.

She showed IPS the maize, okra, squash and fresh fruit in the school pantry.

This is the result of a lengthy process that began in 1986 with the First National Conference on Food and Nutrition, further editions of which were held in 2004, 2007, 2011 and in the first week of November 2015 in Brasilia, with 2,000 participants.

The National Council on Food and Nutritional Security (CONSEA) was created in 1993, with representatives of civil society and the government. The Organic Law on Food and Nutritional Security was passed in 2006.

Three years later, under that legal framework, a new law linked the National School Feeding Programme (PNAE) and family farming, after overcoming stiff resistance in the legislature, economist Francisco Menezes told IPS.

“The enormous school meals market, today made up of 45 million students, was dominated by companies, some of them contracted by municipal governments for all of the schools,” said Menezes who, as president of CONSEA from 2004 to 2007, played a key role in the drafting and approval of the law.

“Higher prices and lower quality” are typical when suppliers enjoy a monopoly, he said.

It took the law three years to make its way through Congress, where it was blocked by legislators interested in that market themselves or financed by companies that supplied it, which in the end still had control of 70 percent of sales to school meal programmes, although that is a ceiling that was set.

Forging a new path

But in this huge country of 206 million people, the effectiveness of the law has been irregular. “There are municipal governments that comply with it, others don’t, and there are some in the south of Brazil that achieved 100 percent supplies from family farming,” said Menezes.

But there is also fraud, he admitted.

“Strong” municipal councils inhibit irregularities, but they are also subject to pressure, said the expert. Because of that, “everything depends on family farms organised in associations and cooperatives, so that if one producer fails, other members are there to step in to guarantee supplies,” he added.

But the law is essential, because “it turned the school meals programme into a state policy, making setbacks more unlikely to occur,” he said.

Rural leader Idevan Correa examines one of his new orange trees. He decided to plant an orange grove again thanks to a Brazilian law that requires that at least 30 percent of the food consumed in schools come from local family farms. The municipality of Itaboraí was famous for its oranges until a pest reduced production. Credit: Mario Osava/IPS

Rural leader Idevan Correa examines one of his new orange trees. He decided to plant an orange grove again thanks to a Brazilian law that requires that at least 30 percent of the food consumed in schools come from local family farms. The municipality of Itaboraí was famous for its oranges until a pest reduced production. Credit: Mario Osava/IPS

Correa, the farmer who would have liked the law to have been in place since slavery was abolished in 1888, told IPS it was smart to set the minimum quota for supplies from family farms at 30 percent.

“It’s a first, experimental step; small farmers can’t increase their production overnight, they have to do it gradually,” said Correa, the president of the Association of Rural Producers of the Fourth District of Itaboraí, who inherited a 100-hectare farm that his father received during the agrarian reform process in the 1950s.

He also agrees with the annual limit of 20,000 reals (5,200 dollars) for each farmer’s sales to the municipal government, although that was not ideal for him this year as he could have sold above that quota with his production of maize, beans, potatoes and fruit.

“It’s better this way, more farmers can sell; if the quota were to be expanded a lot, very few would be able to sell,” he said.

“At the start of the current municipal administration, in 2012, only nine or 10 farmers were taking part in the school feeding programme; now that number is 54,” agronomist Ana Paula de Farias, technical adviser to the local Secretariat of Agriculture, Supplies and Fishing in Itaboraí, told IPS.

There are some 300 farms in the municipality, but most of them raise cattle.

Another problem in expanding the number of suppliers for the school meals programme is that many of them do not have the required documents, she explained.

Furthermore, technical assistance was necessary to help farmers begin to grow organic products, or at least to significantly reduce their use of pesticides and herbicides, and to adapt to the specific needs of meals for children, such as guava fruits in small uniform sizes, in order to provide one for each child without having to cut them into pieces.

“The most important lesson in this learning process was planting without agrochemicals,” said Correa. “You learn as you go along, living up to the requirements of the programme. We used to plant more to earn more, since we weren’t in a position to compete with the big companies; now we try for better quality, and we’re more careful, because it’s food for local children.”

Sales to schools gave a boost to local small farmers, even though there is a quota, he said, because the programme pays retail “supermarket prices,” and there are no costs for transportation because the municipal government sends out its own trucks, while in the big agricultural market farmers have to deal with middlemen who pay less and charge to cover their own costs.

Exportable model

Brazil’s experience in linking family farms and school feeding programmes has already been exported to several countries in Latin America and in Africa, including Bolivia, Mali, Mozambique and Senegal.

It is also one of the models used by the Parliamentary Front Against Hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean, an initiative that emerged in 2009 with technical support from the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO).

Brazil’s law will be studied during the Nov. 15-17 Sixth Forum of the Parliamentary Front Against Hunger, to be held in Lima with the participation of legislators from throughout the region as well as guest lawmakers from Africa and Asia.

Brazil’s Food Purchase Programme, based on an earlier law from 2003 and geared towards supplying social assistance networks, has also been replicated abroad, as an example of a public policy that has been doubly successful: in bolstering food security while strengthening family agriculture.

In addition, the area of food security has served to develop a multi-disciplinary approach involving various ministries, such as those of agriculture, health and education, which tend to act in an isolated fashion, said Menezes.

Edited by Estrella Gutiérrez/Translated by Stephanie Wildes

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Parliamentary Forum to Set New Goals Against Hungerhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2015/11/parliamentarian-forum-to-set-new-goals-against-hunger/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=parliamentarian-forum-to-set-new-goals-against-hunger http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/11/parliamentarian-forum-to-set-new-goals-against-hunger/#respond Sat, 07 Nov 2015 00:39:16 +0000 Milagros Salazar http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=142933 Undertaking the challenge of pushing for new legislation to guarantee food security in their countries, legislators from Latin America and the Caribbean, together with guest lawmakers from Africa and Asia, will hold the Sixth Forum of the Parliamentary Front Against Hunger Nov. 15-17. The Forum will provide an opportunity to share experiences, said Aitor Las […]

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Two peasant farmers with a calf in the Andes highlands community of Alto Huancané in the southeastern department of Cusco. Small farmers like them provide around 80 percent of the food for the inhabitants of Latin America and the Caribbean. Credit: Milagros Salazar/IPS

Two peasant farmers with a calf in the Andes highlands community of Alto Huancané in the southeastern department of Cusco. Small farmers like them provide around 80 percent of the food for the inhabitants of Latin America and the Caribbean. Credit: Milagros Salazar/IPS

By Milagros Salazar
LIMA, Nov 7 2015 (IPS)

Undertaking the challenge of pushing for new legislation to guarantee food security in their countries, legislators from Latin America and the Caribbean, together with guest lawmakers from Africa and Asia, will hold the Sixth Forum of the Parliamentary Front Against Hunger Nov. 15-17.

The Forum will provide an opportunity to share experiences, said Aitor Las Romero, in charge of organisation of the forum in the Peruvian office of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), which provides support to the Parliamentary Front Against Hunger, created in the region in 2009.

The list of participants in the forum is still open; “other countries of Latin America that have not yet formed their Parliamentary Front, but want to start working towards that goal, are even participating,” the FAO expert told IPS.

The central issues at the sixth Forum will be food security, healthy eating, and other proposals to fight hunger, Peruvian congressman Modesto Julca, who was the first coordinator of the Peru chapter of the Parliamentary Front Against Hunger, told IPS.

FAO estimates that 34.3 million people in the region are hungry, according to the latest edition of the Panorama of Food and Nutritional Security in Latin America and the Caribbean, released in May by the FAO regional office in Santiago, Chile.

Peruvian anthropologist Jorge Arboccó said “poverty and hunger are closely intertwined with land use, those who administer it, and the role of states in that relationship.”

In Latin America, 81 percent of food products come from small-scale family agriculture. “They are the farmers who generate the most employment in our countries, employing between 57 and 77 percent of the economically active population,” Arboccó has stated, based on FAO figures.

Although the fight against hunger transcends borders, each national chapter of the Parliamentary Front Against Hunger works at its own pace according to the political situation in each parliament.

In the case of Peru, the Front is made up of 13 members “and some participate more than others, but we are working for it to be represented better by all the political forces,” Las Romero told IPS.

The sixth Forum will focus on three main thematic areas, according to the agenda released Friday Nov. 6. The first will be “the plan for food security, nutrition and hunger eradication in the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) by 2025.”

The other two are “parliamentary dialogue between the Parliamentary Front Against Hunger of Latin America and the Caribbean with parliamentarians from Asia-Pacific, Africa and other regions,” and “the construction of commitments and policies that strengthen the enforcement of the right to adequate nutrition and food and nutritional sovereignty and security.”

These three thematic areas will overlap during the discussions among the legislators in Lima with three issues considered a priority by the Front: family agriculture and its decisive weight in guaranteeing the right to food and food sovereignty; schools meals as an essential tool in the fight against hunger; and the new challenges presented by overnutrition, a form of malnutrition.

One of the last fronts formed in the region was Peru’s. After a year of work, it got the single-chamber Congress to approve a law on family agriculture. But it has not yet managed to push through two other draft laws, on food security and school meals.

Despite the difficulties, “the fact that parliamentary fronts have been set up throughout Latin America and that today we are the headquarters of that front is representative – it is recognition that we are a country with great diversity,” the coordinator of the Peruvian front, Jaime Delgado, told IPS.

Delgado said they have been working together with civil society on issues like agriculture and food controls under the question of hunger or malnutrition.

In Peru, more than 90 percent of agricultural producers are family farmers and 75 percent of the food consumed is grown on farms less than five hectares in size, said Arboccó, the anthropologist, based on statistics from the 2012 agricultural census.

Although hunger levels have been significantly reduced in Peru according to FAO, there are still 2.3 million hungry people in this country of 30 million.

Poverty affects 33.8 percent of the population in Peru’s Andean highlands, 30.4 percent in the jungle region, and 14.3 percent in the coastal areas, according to 2014 figures from the national statistics institute.

“As an indigenous woman, I am now in Congress, insisting on issues like food sovereignty, family farming, climate change, and healthy eating,” Claudia Coari, a congresswoman for the southeastern department of Puno, told IPS.

“So this is a strength that we are just starting to take into account,” said the lawmaker, who forms part of Peru’s parliamentary front.

Coari said the Forum to be held in Lima is an opportunity to “learn from other countries that have already made progress” and to reinforce what has already been done in Peru. “Now we have to all work together,” she said.

With additional reporting from Aramís Castro in Lima.

Edited by Estrella Gutiérrez/Translated by Stephanie Wildes

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Native Women Green the Outskirts of the City, Feed Their Familieshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2015/10/native-women-green-the-outskirts-of-the-city-feed-their-families/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=native-women-green-the-outskirts-of-the-city-feed-their-families http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/10/native-women-green-the-outskirts-of-the-city-feed-their-families/#respond Sat, 17 Oct 2015 13:42:14 +0000 Franz Chavez http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=142717 The hands of women who have migrated from rural areas carefully tend to their ecological vegetable gardens in the yards of their humble homes on the outskirts of Sucre, the official capital of Bolivia, in an effort to improve their families’ diets and incomes. “The men worked in the construction industry, and 78 percent of […]

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Women from the Sucre Association of Urban Producers, who are from poor neighbourhoods on the outskirts of Bolivia’s official capital, with a basketful of ecologically grown fresh vegetables from their greenhouses, which have improved their families’ diets and incomes. Credit: Franz Chávez/IPS

Women from the Sucre Association of Urban Producers, who are from poor neighbourhoods on the outskirts of Bolivia’s official capital, with a basketful of ecologically grown fresh vegetables from their greenhouses, which have improved their families’ diets and incomes. Credit: Franz Chávez/IPS

By Franz Chávez
SUCRE, Bolivia, Oct 17 2015 (IPS)

The hands of women who have migrated from rural areas carefully tend to their ecological vegetable gardens in the yards of their humble homes on the outskirts of Sucre, the official capital of Bolivia, in an effort to improve their families’ diets and incomes.

“The men worked in the construction industry, and 78 percent of the women didn’t have work – they had no skills, they washed clothes for others or sold things at the market,” Lucrecia Toloba, secretary of “productive development and plural economy” in the government of the southeastern department of Chuquisaca, told IPS.

Her hair in two thin braids and wearing traditional native dress – a bowler hat, a short, pleated skirt called a pollera, and light clothing for the mild climate of the Andean valleys – Toloba, a Quechua Indian, is an educator who now runs the National Urban and Peri-urban Agriculture Programme in the region.“We organised as women, and now we eat without worry because we grow our food free of chemicals." -- Alberta Limachi

In her modest office, she explains that women are at the centre of the programme, which brings them recognition from their families and communities, diversifies their families’ diets, and offers them economic independence through the sale of the vegetables they grow ecologically in the city, which at the same time benefits from healthy, diversified fresh produce.

Five km away, on the outskirts of the city, women in the neighbourhoods of 25 de Mayo and Litoral, who belong to the Sucre Association of Urban Producers, met IPS with a basket of fresh produce from their gardens, including shiny red tomatoes, colourful radishes and bright-green lettuce.

A total of 83 poor suburban neighborhoods in Sucre are taking part in the project, which has the support of the national and departmental governments and of the .

The initiative has 680 members so far, said Guido Zambrana, a young agronomist who runs the Urban Garden Project.

The lunch we are served is soup made with vegetables grown in their backyard gardens, accompanied by tortillas made with cornmeal mixed with flour from different vegetables. Fresh produce is also grown in greenhouses built throughout the hills of Sucre, 2,760 metres above sea level and 420 km south of La Paz, the country’s political centre.

The women have learned how to grow vegetables and how to improve their family’s food security, Tolaba explained.“We want to reach zero malnutrition,” she said.

In Sucre temperatures range between 12 and 25 degrees Celcius. But in the greenhouses, built by the families with support from the government, temperatures climb above 30 degrees.

Sometimes, the temperatures marked by the thermometers in the greenhouses spike and the windows have to be opened. The greenhouses have roofs made of transparent Agrofil plastic sheeting and walls of adobe. They are built under the guidance of technical agronomist Mery Fernández.

Two of the peri-urban agricultural producers of Sucre proudly show one of their greenhouses, which families from 83 poor suburban neighbourhoods have set up in their yards as part of the National Urban and Peri-urban Agriculture Programme. Credit: Franz Chávez/IPS

Two of the peri-urban agricultural producers of Sucre proudly show one of their greenhouses, which families from 83 poor suburban neighbourhoods have set up in their yards as part of the National Urban and Peri-urban Agriculture Programme. Credit: Franz Chávez/IPS

The luscious leafy chard and lettuce in the greenhouse of Celia Padilla, who came to Sucre from an indigenous village in the neighbouring department of Potosí with her husband in 2000 and settled in Bicentenario, a neighbourhood in a flat area among the hills surrounding the city.

Padilla, who also belongs to the Quechua indigenous community like most of the women in the association, joined the project with a garden of just eight square metres last year, and is now thinking about building a 500-square-metre greenhouse.

Greenhouse figures

On average, according to FAO statistics, each greenhouse run by the Sucre association produces some 500 kg of fresh produce a year, in three harvests. And an average of 60 percent of the food grown goes to consumption by the families, while the rest is sold, either by the individual farmers, collectively, or through the association.

A total of 17 different kinds of vegetables are grown, nine in each garden on average. The women and their families provide the land and the labour power in building the greenhouses. Besides planting and harvesting they select the seeds and make organic compost, in this sustainable community project.

The Bolivian organisers of the programme say each greenhouse can produce an average income of at least 660 dollars a year.

Her husband, a construction worker who does casual work in the city, is pleased with the idea of expanding the garden by building a greenhouse. Their home garden provides the family with nutritional food and brings in a not insignificant income through the sale of fresh produce to neighbours or at market.

With the earnings, “I buy milk and meat for the kids,” Padilla told Tierramérica, holding bunches of shiny green chard in her hands.

Water for irrigation is scarce, but a local government programme has donated 2,000-litre tanks to capture water during the rainy season and store it up for using in drip irrigation.

The chance to improve the family diet generated a good-natured dispute between Alberta Limachi and her husband, who came to this city from the village of Puca Puca, 64 km away.

The couple, who own a 150-square-metre plot of land on the outskirts of the city, had to decide between a family garden or using the space to build a garage. Limachi, one of the leaders of the urban producers, won the argument.

Her enthusiasm is contagious among her fellow urban farmers.

“We organised as women, and now we eat without worry because we grow our food free of chemicals,” she told Tierramérica, after proudly serving a snack of green beans and fresh salad.

One of the farmers on the outskirts of Sucre with her son, sitting proudly on the 2,000-litre water tank donated by the government of Chuquisaca. The tank stores rainwater used in drip irrigation on the organic vegetables she grows. Credit: Franz Chávez/IPS

One of the farmers on the outskirts of Sucre with her son, sitting proudly on the 2,000-litre water tank donated by the government of Chuquisaca. The tank stores rainwater used in drip irrigation on the organic vegetables she grows. Credit: Franz Chávez/IPS

“I don’t ask my husband for money anymore, and we don’t spend anything on vegetables,” Padilla said, pleased to help support her family. Her garden is well-known in the neighbourhood because she grows lettuce, chard, celery, coriander and tomatoes, and her neighbours come knocking every day to buy fresh vegetables.

A committee made up of associations of farmers and consumers monitors and certifies that the fresh produce is organic and of high quality, José Zuleta, the national coordinator of the Urban and Peri-urban Agriculture Programme, told Tierramérica.

“The women grow their food without (chemical) fertiliser, using organic compost that can return to the soil, which means their production is sustainable,” Yusuke Kanae, an agronomist with the FAO office in Sucre, commented to Tierramérica.

Kanae, originally from Japan, offers the women technical know-how and simple practices such as converting a creative variety of containers – ranging from a broken old football to plastic television set packaging – into improvised pots for growing vegetables.

“Even if it’s just 20 bolivianos (slightly less than three dollars), the women can help buy notebooks and shoes,” said Kanae, to illustrate the importance of the women’s contribution to the household, which chips away at what he described as “sexist” dependence, while putting them in touch with their indigenous cultural roots.

Kanae also supports the introduction of organic vegetables in the city, and has encouraged the owners of the Cóndor Café, a vegetarian restaurant, to buy products certified by the women as organic.

Visitors to the restaurant enjoy substantial dishes prepared with the vegetables from the women’s peri-urban gardens, which combine Japanese and Bolivian cooking, and cost only three dollars a meal.

The manager of the restaurant, Roger Sotomayor, told Tierramérica that he enjoys supporting the family garden initiative. “We want to encourage environmentally-friendly production of vegetables,” he said, stressing the high quality of the women’s produce and the fact that the cost is 20 percent lower than that of conventional crops.

This story was originally published by Latin American newspapers that are part of the Tierramérica network.

This reporting series was conceived in collaboration with Ecosocialist Horizons

Edited by Estrella Gutiérrez/Translated by Stephanie Wildes

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Bolivia’s School Meals All About Good Habits and Eating Localhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2015/03/bolivias-school-meals-all-about-good-habits-and-eating-local/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=bolivias-school-meals-all-about-good-habits-and-eating-local http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/03/bolivias-school-meals-all-about-good-habits-and-eating-local/#respond Sat, 07 Mar 2015 01:24:30 +0000 Franz Chavez http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=139545 A successful school meals programme that serves breakfast and lunch with Andean flavours to 140,000 students in La Paz gave rise to a new law aimed at promoting healthy diets based on local traditions and products in Bolivia’s schools, while combating malnutrition and bolstering food sovereignty. “We want fruit on Wednesdays!” shouted the students in […]

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A student at the Unidad Educativa La Paz school drinks fruit juice from a package distributed by the municipal government’s Complementary School Food Unit, which delivers 26 tons of natural products based on traditional grains and other ingredients to some 140,000 students. Credit: Franz Chávez/IPS

By Franz Chávez
LA PAZ, Mar 7 2015 (IPS)

A successful school meals programme that serves breakfast and lunch with Andean flavours to 140,000 students in La Paz gave rise to a new law aimed at promoting healthy diets based on local traditions and products in Bolivia’s schools, while combating malnutrition and bolstering food sovereignty.

“We want fruit on Wednesdays!” shouted the students in a classroom in the Unidad Educativa La Paz school, when IPS asked for their suggestions to improve the meals they receive as part of the Complementary School Food Unit (ACE), a national programme.

A demand like this for healthy food, coming from youngsters, would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.

The model for ACE was a school breakfast that began to be served in 2000 in this city, the seat of government of Bolivia, and grew into an innovative meals programme based on nutritious locally-grown natural food for children and adolescents studying in the public schools in the biggest of this country’s 327 municipalities.

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and other international institutions have praised the result of the initiative in various reports.Every day, from dawn to dusk, some 26 tons of food and beverages are distributed from production centres located in Bolivia’s highlands, more than 4,000 metres above sea leavel, or in the valleys and tropical areas of the department of La Paz. The school meals programme has thus bolstered both employment and trade.

“We are leaders in producing school meals with Andean foods like amaranth, fava bean flour and quinoa,” the city government’s director of education Jorge Gómez told IPS with evident enthusiasm, in the austere office where he coordinates the meal plan for public school students between the ages of five and 15.

The high-protein amaranth and quinoa grains formed the foundation of the diet of the pre-Columbian cultures of South America’s Andean region.

Among the positive results: In the first eight years of the programme, anemia fell 30 percent among public school students in the municipality, according to independent studies by the Mayor de San Andrés University and the international organisation Save the Children.

ACE, which was established in the primary and secondary public school system nationwide in 2005, is run by special municipal units. In 2013 it reached two million students in this country, according to the Education Ministry, which is responsible for the programme.

The initiative not only improved the eating habits of students, but gave a boost to small-scale community agriculture.

In addition, it gave rise to the “law on school meals in the framework of food sovereignty and a plural economy” which went into effect on the last day of 2014, banning transgenic and packaged foods in schools and stipulating that they be replaced by traditional Andean foods, most of which are locally produced, starting this year.

Professionals with the city government’s Complementary School Food Unit show the uniform to be worn by the students trained as “leaders in school nutrition and health” in the city’s schools. Credit: Franz Chávez/IPS

Professionals with the city government’s Complementary School Food Unit show the uniform to be worn by the students trained as “leaders in school nutrition and health” in the city’s schools. Credit: Franz Chávez/IPS

The La Paz model

Gómez explained that he talks to fathers and mothers to improve the family diet, and that a variety of products are included in the meals and snacks distributed in the 389 schools in La Paz run by the central and municipal governments, in the morning, afternoon and evening shifts.

La Paz, which covers 2,000 sq km, is home to 764,617 of the country’s 10 million people. Of that total, 293,000 are poor, with incomes of less than 90 dollars a month, according to official figures from 2013.

The regional context

With its new law, Bolivia became the third Latin American country to have specific legislation on school meals, after Brazil and Paraguay, according to FAO, which reports that other countries moving in that direction are Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua.

“Bolivia’s law became part of the regional efforts towards healthy diets in schools, which take into consideration the cultural and productive diversity of countries and give greater value to products from family farms. It is a fundamental step for this kind of programme to become state policy,” said FAO food security official Ricardo Rapallo.

A FAO study carried out in eight countries of the region found that school meal programmes reduce dropout rates and improve learning, and that their success is based on the fact that they involve the public authorities, the educational community, families, organised civil society, and international institutions.

As they eat snacks and drink natural fruit juice from colourful packages, the students in the school visited by IPS say the chocolate-covered granola bars are their favourites.

The bars, made with cacao from the semi-tropical northwestern department of La Paz, are highly popular, and the day of the week they are included in the snack there is not enough for everyone because some students take several portions, the school principal, Marcela Fernández, told IPS.

The school meals provide one-fourth of the daily nutrients needed by a child or adolescent, and include milk, yoghurt, fruit juice and chocolate, to which iron, folic acid, and vitamins A, B and C are added.

The school meals also help families cut costs. “It’s a big help for the family budget,” the president of the Unidad Educativa La Paz school board, Fernando Aliaga, told IPS.

The school’s gym teacher, Hugo Quito, said the students have more energy now, because of the healthy meals.

The meals are the result of innovative and creative production and planning using products with Andean flavours, such as corn bread and buns made with other native grains, baked with eggs, oats and almonds, and steam-cooked quinoa biscuits called“k’ispiña”.

The biscuits revive an Andean tradition of old, when they were used as non-perishable food on long treks or during periods when food was scarce.

Each combination of ingredients was created by the city’s nutritionists, who are focused on reducing anemia among students. But the task is not always easy. One example was an “empanada” – a stuffed bread or pastry – with a filling of chard, which a group of parents complained about because they thought the green colour of the leafy vegetables was from mold.

A boost to agriculture

The boom in demand for natural foods also had a positive side effect, triggering a productive revolution of Andean grains, bananas and other fruits, which are now being produced in an organised manner by farmers grouped in companies and cooperatives.

Every day, from dawn to dusk, some 26 tons of food and beverages are distributed from production centres located in Bolivia’s highlands, more than 4,000 metres above sea leavel, or in the valleys and tropical areas of the department of La Paz. The school meals programme has thus bolstered both employment and trade.

The positive impacts on the health of schoolchildren and the revival of natural, Andean foods, along with the boost to community agriculture, served as a guide for the national law when it came to drawing up the new guidelines for ACE, for the meals distributed in public primary and secondary schools.

The new law is also in line with objectives set out by the government of President Evo Morales, in office since 2006, which promotes the integral concept of “Vivir Bien” – roughly “living well” – as the crux of its social policies.

The law is aimed at keeping children in school, fomenting agricultural production by giving top priority to locally produced ingredients, guaranteeing natural food products that are close to the local culture, and promoting community farming.

Meanwhile, the Complementary School Food Unit of La Paz has entered another pioneering phase: training leaders in nutrition, with the participation of teachers, parents and students, who are given uniforms and caps after undergoing training.

These leaders help raise awareness on healthy eating habits, nutrition and prevention of health problems in their schools and among the broader community. “We are promoting change, at the level of families and schools,” one of the technical experts in charge of the programme, who preferred to remain anonymous, told IPS.

Edited by Estrella Gutiérrez/Translated by Stephanie Wildes

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