World Food Day – Srishti Sinha

Reflectionist Srishti Sinha (ITBM 2022-24)

“You absolutely can make peace with food.”

– Josie Spinardi

World Food Day is celebrated internationally on October 16 every year to immortalize the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) which was founded back in 1945. This day is celebrated by several organizations that work towards food security and hunger eradication. It is a day that holds a special place in a society that is constantly trying to combat hunger problems all over the world. Over the years, World Food Day has had several themes ranging from ‘Women in agriculture’ to ‘Grow, Nourish, Sustain. Together.’ The theme for this year is ‘Leave NO ONE behind.’ The main motive of this year’s event worldwide will be to throw some light on how food availability has been affected by the pandemic, climate change, escalating price points, and tension between nations, all of which ultimately lead to the violation of food security. The ultimate motto of this day is to work towards developing a more sustainable world where everybody has access to alimentary food, emphasizing on the theme for this year.

A few case studies and facts depict the following information:

  • Globally, women are 15% more likely than men to be moderately or severely food insecure.
  • A dramatic increase in food prices, including wheat, barley, rapeseed, and sunflower oil and also fertilizers, are moving countries that were already vulnerable to crisis.
  • Every day more than 30,000 people are forced to flee their homes because of conflict and persecution.
  • Climate change affects the rural poor, their agricultural yields, and productivity, contributing to increasing pests and diseases and changing the nutrient composition of major staple crops.
  • Two-thirds of those experiencing high acute food insecurity are rural food producers.
  • 3.1 billion people (almost 40% of the world’s population) cannot afford a healthy diet.

The human demographics are distinctive and well-focused. Almost one in 10 people in the world are undernourished, according to the United Nations. Also, approximately one in five children under the age of five were stunted in 2020, many as a result of inadequate nutrition which was again a global survey and analysis. While nearly a fifth of people population in Africa faced hunger last year.

“Projections suggest that 670 million people – 8% of the world’s population – will still be facing hunger in 2030.” — FAO

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2022 report, says world hunger rose to a noticeable extent last year. It adjudges that as many as 828 million people globally were influenced and dramatically affected by hunger in 2021. It says this reflects “exacerbated inequalities across and within countries due to an unequal pattern of economic recovery among countries and unrecovered income losses among those most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The FAO also says predictions show that nearly 670 million people will still be battling hunger and facing food insecurities in 2030. That’s 8% of the world’s population and the same number as when its 2030 Agenda was launched in 2015 – and despite the continuous work and efforts of the UN’s own Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of ‘zero hunger’ by the termination of this decade.

The UN defines food security as when a person has “the physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life”. The FAO report says 2.3 billion people globally were moderately or severely food insecure in 2021 – while 11.7% of the world’s population faced food insecurity at severe levels, which is an expanding quantity that depicts a degrading scenario. More than three billion people worldwide were unsuccessful in being efficient enough to have access to a healthy diet in 2020.

The UN says rising inflation, augmented by the COVID-19 pandemic and conflicts such as the one in Ukraine, have also resulted in food scarcity, especially for the world’s poorest people. It says Ukraine and the Russian Federation supply 30% and 20% of global wheat and maize exports respectively. They are also the prime fertilizers exporters as well. A minimum of 50 countries have been seen importing wheat from the same with many African and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) importing as much as 50%. The UN says the recent, unfortunate conflict has spawned an unforeseen and serrated downfall of exports from Ukraine.

The FAO says it is high time for governments to consider re-evaluation of their aid for food and agriculture. It says this was summed to an average of almost $630 billion per year from 2013-2018 on a global stats analysis. However, the FAO says “the lion’s share of it is targeted to farmers individually, through trade and market policies and fiscal subsidies largely tied to production. Not only is much of this support market-distorting, but it is not reaching many farmers, hurts the environment, and does not promote the production of nutritious foods.”

The organization also brings to light the trade and market interventions that can compromise and diminish the affordability and availability of food that is not only healthy but of good quality with considerable nutritious value.

The World Economic Forum estimates that there will be a sharp need for 60% more food by 2050 just so the world can be fed. Although, the global agricultural sector is not ready to tackle this demand due to limited resources and development. It was this reason which made the Forum launch its Innovation with a Purpose platform in 2018. It’s a large-scale partnership that promotes and advances the adoption of new technologies and other innovations to cater to better production, distribution, and consumption of the food we want to supply out there. The platform is brain-storming, sitting down, and working tirelessly around the clock alongside nearly 50 partner institutions and 1,000 leaders around the world to seek to find and grasp emerging, new technologies that can enhance the food systems and drive them towards sustainability, inclusivity, and efficiency.

For most of us, food is a mere means of delight, satisfaction, and contentment. We take our food privileges and securities for granted regularly leading to food wastage and ignorance. Since we’re privileged enough to waste food and also blessed enough to have access to three to four meals a day catering to all kinds of food cravings we might have, it’s time we give a thought to those who struggle to fetch half a meal even in times like these where the entire world is pushing itself to betterment, advancement, and sustainability.

As humans, every one of us needs nutritious food to survive and lead a thriving, healthy life.

Let us all think about the food crisis around the globe, and do our bit to curtail food bio-waste which can lead us toward a more sustainable and justifiable food cycle that can cater to the enrichment of the food-deprived population and do justice to Momofuku Ando’s quote stating “Peace prevails when food suffices.”