World Food Day and Delivering Development

2011 marks the 31st celebration of World Food Day, which began in 1981 to recognize and bring awareness to the work of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, which works to improve food security around the world.

Both FAO and the UN cite food price volatility and food insecurity a key causes

See http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/92495/icode/ and The State of Food Insecurity in the World (http://www.fao.org/publications/sofi/en/) which raises awareness about global hunger issues, and explains the underlying causes of hunger and malnutrition and monitors progress towards hunger reduction targets established at the 1996 World Food Summit and the Millennium Summit. http://www.fao.org/publications/sofi/en/

For info documenting  places making some progress in the quest against hunger see this article by the CSM: http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Foreign-Policy/2010/1011/Global-Hunger-Index-top-10-Which-nations-have-reduced-hunger-most

Finally check out this interesting book Delivering Development (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0230110762?tag=edwacarrdelid-20&camp=213381&creative=390973&linkCode=as4&creativeASIN=0230110762&adid=1VE78VRVKRQ3EXE3JCYJ&)

by Ed Carr who challenges the notion that hunger  is primarily an issue of productivity –He asserts we are misunderstanding/misidentifying the development challenge, and so trying to solve the wrong thing.  According to Carr “We still produce more than enough food globally to feed everyone a very healthy number of calories, and probably enough that those calories could be accompanied by adequate nutrients.  The current problems of food insecurity are primarily about distribution, not production. Anywhere between 20% and 40% of all food grown globally spoils before it reaches market.  The figures are lower for grains (which tend to travel well) and much higher for vegetables. In the US, we throw away roughly 30% of all food we purchase. Consider those two numbers together: In the US, we probably lose a lot less of the crop between farm and purchase at market, but then throw 30% of it away.  In other places, the food that reaches the table is nearly completely eaten, but we could lose up to 40% of that food before it reaches market.  In other words, no matter where you go on Earth, there is a hell of a lot of waste in the food system. Finally, consider that 33% of all farmland is used for animal feed, one of the less efficient ways of getting calories out of the environment.  It is unclear to me if this 33% includes biofuel crops, but in any case biofuels would only add a few percentage points to this at most.”

He reminds us that at this time hunger results from  distribution problems and waste in our food systems yet the food security debate in policy circles is driven primarily by production arguments.  “Enhancing production is not a low hanging fruit.  Enhancing production is often used as an excuse for ignoring local knowledge and capacity in favor of reworking entire agroecological systems (which usually ends badly).  Those of us working in development would be well-served to consider all the ways we might address hunger, including waste and distribution, rather than focus myopically on one cause for what might be a phantom problem.”

 

 

 

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