World Food Day

September 27th, 2010

“Feeding people is easy” says Colin Tudge in his eponymous book – so why do we live with the scourge of hunger?

There is currently enough food in the world but greed limits access. Now, nearly one billion people go to bed hungry each night while both the livelihoods of small-scale farmers, pastoralists and fisherfolk who provide food for most of the world’s peoples, and the environment upon which they depend are being trashed. Enough food is available today but is not distributed equitably. More could be made available for the world’s growing population but only if we embrace localised, ecological production methods – our current lurch into industrial food is unsustainable. We need a radical change in our food system, one that prioritises people’s need for food produced sustainably and as locally as possible. World Food Day, on 16th October, provides an annual reminder of this scourge and our obligations to change the system.

From bottom to top we need change…

Practical Action has worked for many decades with poor communities that are adapting technologies such as compost making, floating gardens and different forms of rainwater harvesting to secure their food supplies. We engage with movements of small-scale food providers, such as La Via Campesina, the global peasant farmers movement, in their call for food sovereignty – increasing control of localized food systems. And we join them in lobbies of governments and international agencies to call for the radical changes needed.

We have the opportunity to promote a better food system. Since the 2007/8 speculation driven global food price crisis and the riots in 30 countries that sparked a rapid response from many fearful governments, food and agriculture have been at the top of the political and news agenda. There are many proposals, meetings, conferences, programmes that are meant to find solutions… but will they?

In September, Governments met in New York to wring their hands over their abject failure to move towards realising the Millennium Development Goals – one of which is to halve hunger.

In October, they meet in Rome to set in motion a new system for governing global food and agriculture so that hunger is eliminated, rural livelihoods secured and the agricultural environment restored, but vested interests will undermine this.

Later, they meet in Nagoya, Japan to lament their failure to halt biodiversity losses yet if they ensured the necessary changes in food and farming towards more ecological and biodiverse production that would reverse these losses and keep biodiversity alive on-farm.

And in December, they meet in Cancun to stem climate change; little will be agreed, yet millions of the world’s small-scale food providers have climate-friendly solutions that will be ignored. While global governance is needed, at present it is not delivering: shadowy corporations, more interested in capturing markets and ecosystems to fuel profits, keep the solutions at bay.

With the heightened popular interest in food, now is the time to take action, contesting the inaction of governments and unreservedly promoting the diverse and productive food system driven by millions of small-scale producers that we know will deliver – food sovereignty. Following in the footsteps of our prescient founder EF Schumacher, who called for a multiplicity of local solutions proliferating into an unstoppable movement for change, Practical Action is committed to help realise this

5 responses to “World Food Day”

  1. Walter Says:

    Thnkyou for that contribution. I’ll use it in the 3 harvest festival services I’ve got to lead in the coming month.

  2. Freddie Catterson Says:

    I don’t know if it’s just me or if everybody else experiencing problems with your blog. It appears as if some of the written text in your content are running off the screen. Can somebody else please comment and let me know if this is happening to them too? This might be a problem with my web browser because I’ve had this happen before. Appreciate it

  3. Gemma Hume Says:

    Hi Freddie
    We have looked at the blog site from our home computers and at work and can see no such problems so I assume that it is just you I’m afraid!

  4. John Carter Says:

    Hey there just wanted to give you a quick heads up. The text in your content seem to be running off the screen in Chrome. I’m not sure if this is a format issue or something to do with internet browser compatibility but I thought I’d post to let you know. The style and design look great though! Hope you get the issue solved soon. Thanks

  5. Gemma Hume Says:

    Hi John
    How bizarre – it is working fine on Google Chrome for us – will investigate. Thanks!