Today, October 16, is World Food Day. The theme for this year, 2020, is ” Grow, Nourish, sustain. Together. Our actions are our future “.
This year we need to hail our Food Heroes – who help plant, harvest, fish, or transport our Food – more than ever before. Because COVID-19 is intricately interwoven with Food and Agriculture.
World Food Day (programs) has three partners with important roles to play as depicted in the Figure below :
They are : (a) Consumers, (b) Government, and (c) Private businesses.
Consumers and community responses can be influenced by change in diet patterns, and eating habits due to urbanisation, globalisation, and increase in disposable income. A strategy here : Form a farmers’ meet in the community to boost local farmers and local economy.
Government slowdown this year raises its responsibility to protect vulnerable societies, social protection policies and programs , and adoption of measures to prevent disruption of the economy. A strategy here : Take measures to reduce food waste and help store uneaten to be preserved well.
Private businesses are also seriously affected by COVID-19. A strategy here : They can contribute by sharing information, expertise, and resources to tackle the challenges to the government and people.
Quite fittingly this year, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to World Food Program (WFP), ” for its efforts to combat hunger, for its contribution to bettering conditions for peace in conflict affected areas and for acting as a driving force in efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict “.
Setting its sight on needy nations, the program, since 1962 has covered 83 nations and 91 million individuals/annum.
Marching ahead proudly, the WFD claims at getting rid of Global Hunger by 2030. That people dying of hunger is more than those dying of Cancer, AIDS, and Malaria combined is a shocking revelation.
Food is the most essential requirement not just for every human being but for all living beings including animals. What is astounding is the fact that other animals and organisms do not seem to struggle much to consume some food to make their living. But there are many humans who struggle to get food for just once a day even. There are also innumerable reports that this condition drives the humans to the brink of even committing suicides.
History records that many Indians who fought valiantly for their freedom (Indian Freedom Struggle) lived in hunger after delivering their entire produce from the lands owned to the British who ruled us at that time. It is this group of direct descendents of those very same people that takes pleasure in wasting food – a fact that makes everyone feel painful today.
People living in big cities in general constitute the bulk of this group. May be, they really do not know the value of the basic food of our Culture. People in towns and villages are known for their efforts to save food. Farmers, specially, will not waste even a single grain of rice or wheat. Whatever food remains after dinner at night will be preserved in vessels with water poured over to be used the next day. It may even be used to feed their livestock. Whatever be the use, that food is not wasted is a matter of pride.
Conditions today are different totally. Fertile land has contracted largely ; production of rice/wheat has reduced significantly ; even farmers’ siblings do not want to engage in farming activities; the lure of greener pastures and better living occupies their minds and their desire to break from traditional work grows strong with new information and observation. Shortage of food availability is the RESULT.
Nutritional value of food grown/cultivated is also on the decline. Reasons are obvious. In general the food we consume should have 30 to 35 % protein. Cereals, milk, vegetables, eggs, sprouted lentils are some sources in this respect. Fat content provides energy to the body. It is also needed for hormone production and vitamin preservation. About 29% of our Food are from fat sources. Ghee, butter, olive oil, soyabean, mustard oil, and groundnut oil are some sources of fat in our Food.
Food should not be wasted (Wasting food is a Crime). Statistics reveal that one third of food cultivated are wasted every year. Statistics also reveal that during the lockdown – when specially the migrants were suffering from serious food shortage and grave hunger – about 1550 tons of food grains were wasted . About 26 tons in May ; about 1453 tons in June ; about 41 tons in July ; and about 51 tons in August. We boast of Agriculture as the backbone of our economy and about 1550 tons in food warehouses were consumed by insects and worms. Another report notes that by 2020 end people affected by food hunger will increase by 8.3 crores. America loses 150000 tons of food ; China and Europe are making sincere and concerted efforts to curtail the food wastage by 2030. The problems are twofold : Decline in production and distribution hurdles. Remedial measures are known and are being adopted. According to UN the wealth of the richest in America has increased by 19% in this abnormal period of COVID-19 stressing the greater need for the rich to contribute to save global hunger.
Out of about 20 million infants born each year with low birth weight, 96.5 % are in developing nations. About 30 lakh infants below the age of 5 die in India every year. About 4 crore are undernourished and about 1.7 crore are unhealthy. Even though world records progress in efforts to lower the undernourished, India still has not lowered its position from the top. Out of the 821 million undernourished people in the world, about 168 crore suffer from overweight and about 75 crore are obese.
Last year our people used about 31.7 crore liters of water/day. The death rate due to waterborne diseases during the same period was about 61000. About 80.69 crore people suffered from lack of potable water.
Need for production of ‘ragi’ will be on the increase in future due to production deficits in rice and wheat. Calcium deficient individuals can supplement their requirements with porridge made from millet. It is also good for people suffering from diabetes. Significant, however, is to note the fact that protein deficiency is a uniform condition in most parts of our country. Iron, protein, vitamin, and Zinc deficiencies are notably high in general now. Bone growth requires calcium.
World Food Day is followed every October 16 to raise our awakening against hunger and to increase the importance of food.
Following the founding of Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in 1945 October 16 ( to tackle global hunger and strive to eradicate hunger across the globe ) by the UN and to commemorate the observance of the same strongly, the general meeting of FAO in 1979 announced the beginning of World Food Day. The Hungarian delegation, headed by the Minister of Agriculture and Food, Paul Romany, played an active role in that session suggesting the idea of a worldwide celebration of WFD.
Government efforts to hold its responsibility to protect the list of fundamental essential food grains/products to meet and tackle hunger is on and needs acceleration. In June, onion and potatoes were, however, removed from the list. It should be remembered here that this action promotes price increases considerably affecting all consumers.
Bridging the gap between production of food grains , distribution , and consumption of food grains will only enable the world to mark its steps towards a hunger free world.
It should be our dutiful responsibility not just to celebrate this day today, but also to observe a pledge ” Not to Waste Food”.
” Dieu avec nous “
Friday, October 16, 2020 – 1.09 p.m. (IST)
Tidbit : ” Healthy Citizens are the greatest asset any country can have ” – Winston Churchill.