‘COVID 19 has multiplied hunger and malnutrition challenges. We need transformative action!’ The first speaker at the UN Committee on World Food Security’s (CFS) 49th Plenary Session, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, turned the spotlight on the disastrous impacts of the pandemic that have afflicted communities around the world for close to two years.
While more than a third of all purchased food is wasted in rich, mostly Western States, and a similar percentage is lost in poor countries due to the lack of appropriate harvesting, storage and transportation facilities, over three billion people --or some 40 percent of world population-- cannot afford a healthy diet.
Add to these figures --which were released by UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
on 16 October this year, marking the World Food Day
-- another dramatic fact.
As we honored women and girls last week, on the annual International Day of Rural Women on October 15, we want to highlight how a community is coming together to change the lives and livelihoods of rural women and girls in Uganda.
Pascaline Chemutai’s five acres of land located in the country’s breadbasket region of Rift Valley recently produced 115 bags of maize, each weighing 90 kilograms. She tells IPS that of these, 110 bags will be transported to traders in Nairobi and neighbouring Kiambu County at a negotiated price of $23 per bag.
"The biggest problem for family farmers has always been to market and sell what they produce, at a fair price," says Natalia Manini, a member of the Union of Landless Rural Workers (UST), a small farmers organisation in Argentina that has been taking steps to forge direct ties with consumers.
Our lives depend on the world’s agri-food system.
Every time we eat, we participate in the system.
A sustainable agri-food system is one in which sufficient, nutritious and safe foods are available to everyone.
Jenifer Kamba, 33, has always loved farming – a love passed on to her by her late husband after they married 14 years ago. The young farmer duo grew maise, pepper and vegetables on their two-acre farm in Kivandini of Kenya’s Machakos county. Even after her husband died five years ago, Kamba didn’t stop farming. However, of late, the soil looks dry, and her production has declined considerably.
Tuvalu, a small atoll island nation in the Central Pacific Ocean, is one of few countries in the world to have so far evaded the pandemic. But, while it has achieved a milestone with no recorded cases of COVID-19, its population of about 11,931 continues to battle food uncertainties and poor nutrition. These challenges, present long before the pandemic emerged, have been exacerbated by lockdown restrictions and economic hardships during the past year and a half.
Hunger, violent conflict and the visible impacts of climate change are all on the rise. World Food Day, October 16, is a reminder that we need to talk about the intricate ways that these challenges are connected—and how to tackle them together.
It is not uncommon for a water-centric research, policy or development organization or network to declare its long-term vision of the “water-secure world”. It reads nicely and feels great.
There is broad consensus that realizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement on climate change require a transformative agenda for agriculture and food systems. In this context, the importance of mobilizing more investments and aligning them to sustainable development and inclusive rural transformation objectives, is widely acknowledged.
Amidst the verdant hills and remote corners of Vietnam’s rural regions, the growth that has transformed the economy in this part of Southeast Asia in recent decades can be hard to see. Undernourishment among children still results in stunting – even in cities too where overweight/obesity is also on the rise.
I assume channel surfing and internet browsing contribute to a decrease in people’s attention span. I am not familiar with any scientific proof, though while working as a teacher I found that some students may be exhausted when five minutes of a lesson has passed and begin fingering on their smartphones. They might also complain if a text is longer than half a page, while finding it almost impossible to read a book.
In the days following the UN Food Systems Summit I have read a number or articles questioning whether there is a role for the private sector in transforming global food systems into something healthier, more sustainable and more equitable. Frankly, I don’t see how food systems transformation is possible without meaningful participation of the private sector.
The global food system needs a massive overhaul – this was clear before the Covid pandemic and it is even more true today.
Feeding the world in a sustainable and healthy way is entirely possible but it is also inextricably linked to tackling the climate crisis by reaching net zero emissions, and to halting the dizzying decline in bio-diversity which is currently threatening the survival of one million plant and animal species.
After climbing a steep hill along winding paths, you reach a huge water tank at the top that supplies peasant farmer families who had no water and instead set up their own community project on this coastal strip in central El Salvador.
On September 10th
, on a sweltering summer afternoon, three fishers drove a van around the residential community of Castle Comfort in Dominica, blowing forcefully into their conch shells – the traditional call that there is fresh fish for sale in the area.
Current food systems are no longer fit for the 21st century. Inequitable distribution, poor nutritional habits, and climate change are three issues breaking down our global food systems today, forcing us to look for solutions to transform them. Food aid – very much part of our global food systems – needs to be responsive to the challenges that lie ahead.
With the world still counting the social and economic costs of the Covid-19 pandemic, amid a fresh “code red
” on the climate crisis, food may not seem like the most pressing threat to humanity.
September 23, 2021 is the first-ever UN Food Systems Summit, convened to mobilize the highest-priority transformations needed to end hunger through the sustainable production and distribution of food. Transforming food systems to ensure food security for all has never been so urgent.
Food processing extends shelf-life and can transforms raw food into attractive, marketable products. It can also prevent contamination. The transformation can involve numerous physical and chemical processes such as mincing, cooking, canning, liquefaction, pickling, macerating, emulsification, irradiation and lyophilization. Frozen processed and raw food changes transport and storage requirements radically; while the packaging of food, both raw and processed, is an industry unto itself.