Back-to-back droughts followed by plagues of locusts have pushed over a million people in southern Madagascar to the brink of starvation in recent months. In the worst famine in half a century, villagers have sold their possessions and are eating the locusts, raw cactus fruits, and wild leaves to survive.
Undoubtedly, the world needs to reform existing food systems to better serve humanity and sustainable development. But the United Nations World Food Systems Summit (UNFSS
) must be consistent with UN-led multilateralism.
For the first time ever, the World Economic Forum (WEF), a partnership of some of the world’s most powerful corporations, is partnering the UN in launching the Summit, now scheduled for September, with its ‘Pre-Summit’ beginning today.
Rwanda is trying to reduce post-harvest loss by relying on new technologies to increase the amount of food available for consumption and help smallholder farmers confront some challenges caused by the overproduction of staple crops.
With its political and economic clout, the G20 should lead in delivering sustainable food systems as the world grapples with rising hunger, malnutrition and inequality.
In three weeks, the United Nations will bring together farmers, scientists, policymakers and civil society for the last major event ahead of the September UN Food Systems Summit.
In July, the United Nations will convene “Science Days
”, a high-profile event in preparation for the UN Food Systems Summit later this year. Over the course of two days, the world will be treated to a parade of Zoom sessions aimed at “highlighting the centrality of science, technology and innovation for food systems transformation.”
In 2020, Southeast Asian countries were already facing varied challenges that affected the region’s food supplies and prices. The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic later in the year exacerbated the region’s food insecurity and poverty. Southeast Asian countries need to take a hard look at food security, even as the double challenges — climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic — continue to fester.
Acute hunger is expected to soar in over 20 countries in the next few months, warns a recent report
on global “hunger hotspots” from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP). An estimated 34 million people are “one step away from starvation”, pushed to the brink by climate shocks, conflict, and the Covid-19 pandemic.
In three cycles I spent all together more than 15 years in Rome, at the Permanent Representation of Hungary to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) and between my last two assignments in Rome my responsibilities in Budapest included FAO related issues. This made it possible for me to witness the development of this organization under the leadership of four Directors-General. Edouard Saouma, Jacques Diouf, Jose Graziano da Silva and Qu Dongyu. This long association and “historic” view of FAO would definitely help me in fulfilling the role of the Independent Chairperson of the Council of FAO (ICC). As conventional wisdom suggests, in order to make good decisions for the future we need to know, understand and learn from the past. The Independent External Evaluation, commissioned by the FAO Council in 2004, was an important milestone in this regard. It was followed by inclusive discussions among FAO Members about the recommendations and finally an Immediate Plan of Action was adopted by the FAO Conference. It was the most significant reform in FAO and I had the privilege to contribute to this process.
It is an uncommon occurrence to see farms with flourishing healthy crops in Kenya’s semi-arid Makueni County. But in Kithiani village, Justus Kimeu’s two-acre piece of land stands out from the rest. After embracing the regenerative agriculture (RA) technique, the 52-year-old farmer is looking forward to a bumper harvest of maize as all his neighbours count their losses following this year’s failed season.
Producers and consumers seem helpless as food all over the world comes under fast growing corporate control. Such changes have also been worsening environmental collapse, social dislocation and the human condition.
The COVID-19 pandemic, protracted conflicts and climate change have created an untenable situation for the most vulnerable, with 155 million people across 55 territories suffering from severe food insecurity, sending acute hunger figures to a 5-year high.
Global youth advocates have been told that they play a crucial role in ensuring that the world produces and consumes food with greater attention to nutrition, food security, equality and sustainability.
As the United Nations prepares to host the inaugural Global Food Systems Summit in September, the organisation is hosting a series of dialogues to correct flaws in the way food is grown, processed, packaged and marketed, hoping to tackle growing world hunger, water scarcity and climate change.
Since the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) was launched in 2006, yields have barely risen, while rural poverty remains endemic, and would have increased more if not for out-migration.
After Joseph Mandu lost his job because of the country’s coronavirus lockdown, he would still wake every morning and leave his home in the City Carton slum in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. But instead of heading to the restaurant he worked at as a pool-table attendant, he would walk around City Carton searching for odd jobs to earn an income so he could pay for the food his family needed to survive.
Millions of lives lost. Trillions of dollars in economic damage. Over 120 million more people pushed into extreme poverty. The human and economic toll of the COVID-19 pandemic is almost unimaginable – a once-in-a-century catastrophe.
With the two extremes of global hunger and obesity on the increase, a new report suggests a radical reset for food and nutrition to ensure the long-term sustainability of livelihoods and the environment.
Following an extensive scientific review, the Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition Foundation (BCFN) is preparing to launch a new food systems model which incorporates nutrition and climate.
From small towns to big cities, sub-Saharan Africa has the fastest urban growth rate in the world. The continent’s population is expected to double by 2050 with the youth representing 60% of the overall population.
The UN Department of Global Communication, for example, projects that for the next 15 years urban growth is set to double for several African cities: Dar es Salaam will reach over 13 million inhabitants and Kampala will exceed seven million.
The battle for the future of food has grown contentious, and José Graziano da Silva has become a lightning rod for criticism. In 2014, as Director General of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), he presided over the institution’s first International Agroecology Symposium, opening what he called “a new window in the Cathedral of the Green Revolution.” The FAO has since then formalized support for “Scaling Up Agroecology” while continuing to promote the kinds of chemical-intensive agriculture associated with the Green Revolution.
Last year, Jaxine Scott was off work as a caregiver at a primary school as a result of the pandemic. One day, she noticed a green shoot emerging from some garlic in her fridge. She decided to plant it, and to her surprise, it thrived. “I thought ‘It looks like I have a green thumb, let me plant something else,’” Scott says. She now has a backyard garden, including cucumber, pumpkin, melon, callaloo, cantaloupe, pak choy and tomatoes. “It makes me feel good,” she says. “I can help my family members and neighbours. It has saved me money. I’m not going to stop, I’m going to continue,” she says.