Hunger is one of the top issues the world faces today. About 795 million people, including children go to bed empty stomach. Is this happening because of food shortage? Of course not, we have sufficient food to feed everyone in the world. Then what could be the reason? There are several not just one cause and some of them include – fluctuating market, lack of proper agricultural infrastructure, natural calamities and poverty.
It is high time that we solve these issues as hunger kills nearly 25,000 people a day and about 14,000 of them are children. Also the death toll from hunger is higher than the human loss caused by AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis together.
Solving these issues were the main aim when the United Nations launched the Zero Hunger Challenge (ZHC) in June 2012. The UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) held in Brazil also identified some key areas which can help in achieving freedom from hunger and improve nutritional status of individuals. They included empowerment of women, access or right to adequate food for all, importance to family farming and sustainable plus resilient food systems.
However, reaching zero hunger also faced some major challenges like minimising the number of stunted children below 2 years to zero, providing 100% access to adequate food to everyone the whole year, achieving sustainability of food systems, attaining 100% growth in smallholder productivity plus income and finally ending loss or wastage of food.
Later in 2015, the Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) joined hands and set a goal to end chronic malnutrition and world hunger by 2030.
The conference concluded that to achieve freedom from hunger by 2030, we have to focus on agricultural development. About 40 per cent of the world’s population is depended upon agriculture for making a living. Additionally, up to 80 per cent of food consumed in developing world comes from about 500 million small farms.
Agricultural development can be achieved through private and public investment in rural areas. This will help improve rural and agricultural productivity plus income and condition of the food insecure populations.
To end hunger, we also have to conserve crop diversity. However, over the past one century, there is about 75 per cent decline in crop diversity, according to the United Nations (UN). The loss of crop diversity can increase dependency on some major crops and can pose a threat to the zero hunger challenge. On the other hand, growing different crops can help achieve nutritional diets, improve lives of farmers and help in setting up a robust farming system.
Also about 150 million people can be saved from the grip of hunger if women farmers are given equal access to resources as men.
We can also achieve freedom from hunger by improving access to food through social protection programmes, increasing income via improved labour conditions and encouraging productivity- enhancing investments (improving infrastructure, access to market). For this we have to protect our natural resources, embrace agricultural practices which are easier to maintain.
Another factor which should be taken care of to achieve freedom from hunger is wastage of food. We waste about one third of 1.3 billion tons of food produced in the world.
We should also find a way to solve losses in production, storage and consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.
Taking these measures will definitely help us achieve freedom from hunger. However, to speed up the procedure and to meet the zero hunger challenge by 2030, each one of us should get involved and work towards it.
Yes, we can do it. Come forward and wipe out hunger from our soil. Make the world a happy, peaceful and healthy place to live.
Akshaya Patra is a not-for-profit organisation based in Bangalore. The foundation is providing mid-day meal to 1.4 million government school children across 10 states of India. Being an NGO in India, we are into the cause to eliminate classroom hunger and illiteracy. The foundation has a mission to serve 5 million children by 2020. Support Akshaya Patra’s cause by donating to NGO.