FAO calls for better food systems to fight hunger
Better food systems are required in order to defeat hunger and malnutrition around the globe was the key message coming from the observance of world food day at Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) headquarters.
A statement issued by the FAO and copied to the Ghana News Agency on Wednesday said world food day, commemorated in 150 countries, is also the anniversary of FAO's founding in 1945.
It said this year's observance takes place under the shadow of new hunger figures that show a total of 842 million people are chronically undernourished.
It said in a message for world food day, read by Archbishop Luigi Travaglino at the ceremony, Pope Francis said "It is a scandal that there is still hunger in the world."
The Pope blamed individualism for creating an "attitude of indifference" as if hunger and malnutrition was an unavoidable fact. "It can never be considered normal," he said.
On the World Food Day theme of food systems, he said, he saw the need to change and renew food systems to bring in the value of solidarity with the poor. "We need to educate ourselves in solidarity ... not only different forms of assistance," he said.
He called for the elimination of loss and waste of food products, which he said affects one third of global food production.
"We cannot improve nutrition without food security and we cannot achieve food security if we don't have the right food systems," FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva told the ceremony, attended by government ministers, diplomats, heads of UN agencies and other dignitaries.
He said that although food systems produce enough food for everyone, over half of the world's population is affected by either over- or under-consumption.
"The economic costs of hunger are striking. They can amount to as much as 5 percent of global income through lost productivity and direct health care costs," he said. "The flip side is the huge economic benefits that could results from ending hunger and malnutrition."
Graziano da Silva said 62 out of 128 countries that FAO is monitoring, have reached the Millennium Development Goal hunger target.
"These 62 countries that have achieved the hunger targets show us that it is possible to win the war against hunger," he said.
He urged people to take on a new and broader understanding of the hunger problem.
"We know that smallholders can contribute to sustainable food systems if they have well-functioning infrastructure, supportive policies and institutions. We have seen it in Brazil, China, Malaysia, and Vietnam. On this World Food Day, let us renew our commitment to a world without hunger," Kanayo Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development, told the ceremony.
"Let us work to support governments that are making the right policies, governments that are building effective institutions and governments that are investing in infrastructure" he said.
Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director of the World Food Programme, told the ceremony that "action to strengthen and reform food systems must fully recognize the critical role of women."