The Global community on September 2015 adopted Sustainable development Goals to improve the standard of living for the entire human population on earth, paving way for sustainable development. One among them is to achieve zero hunger by 2030 and providing adequate nutritious food to all. October 16 World Food Day, themed on zero hunger stating “OUR ACTIONS ARE OUR FUTURE. A ZERO HUNGER WORLD BY 2030 IS POSSIBLE”
A good rise in agricultural productivity and economic growth has helped us meet the nutritional needs and eliminate hunger by more than half. Several countries have started marching towards the Zero hunger targets. But still, every day, numerous people across the globe struggle hard to serve a bowl to their children. Though we produce enough food, it is found that about 821 million people ie., one in nine go to bed without meal. Statistics show that over 90 million children under the age group of five are underweight and one in four people suffer without food in Africa. So, eradicating hunger and providing nutritious food is a major challenge in today’s world.
Though we produce enough food, it is found that about 821 million people ie., one in nine go to bed without meal.
The first and foremost action is to reduce food waste. The amount of food we waste every day is humongous. At present globally, almost 50 % of the food that is produced is being wasted. It is imperative that the less we waste today, the more it becomes easier for us to meet the future demands of the global population. It is an important step in leading the world to the target of Zero hunger.
Food wastage Vs equal access
Food wastage is as a measure of inequality. It is to be noted that food wastage is directly proportional to income level. In wealthy nations, almost 40 % of the food wastage is due to the consumer and is concentrated at houses. They buy too much food but end up not finishing their plates. All these foods just face dustbins at the end. Only the monetary value of the food is considered while the consumption of environmental resources, hardships of farmers and the fortune of having meals 3 times a day are overlooked. Only a behavioral change among the rich in the West can reduce food wastage.
This doesn’t mean that there’s no food wastage in the poor countries, food wastage takes a different shape there. In these countries, food wastage happens on the farm and on its way to the consumer while wastage is less on the consumer end. Quoting to this statement, we could see tomatoes being squished and spoiled on the roads more often. The grains spilled over here and there due to improper packing and transport facilities. Half of all the vegetables are allowed to spoil when they reach consumers due to lack of proper cold stores.
If nothing is done to reduce these food losses and wastage, the only option is to increase the productivity by about 70 % to feed the population in 2030. But increasing production would involve huge investment and hence the only solution is to reduce the perishable losses by effective cold chain and cold stores. Even though refrigeration is the best technology to avoid these losses, only 2% of the food is been refrigerated worldwide. Moreover, the lack of cold chain is a serious problem in hotter and more humid regions of the world.
Considering this case, take India. Out of 104 million tons of perishable food transported in India only 4 million tones are transported in refrigerated vehicles. It is obvious from these figures that these countries can reduce food wastage to a maximum extent through implementation of cold storage facilities.
Farm to Market
The second action would be paving a pathway from farm to market. Right now, an urgent need is an effective supply chain. Innovative strategies along with decent investments would help feed millions easily. Building a strong and efficient supply chain would go a great way in developing sustainable durable markets. There is a need of improved rural infrastructure to ensure reaching a wider consumer base for the farmers. The supply chain would involve all aspects of processing food starting from harvest, efficient storage structures, monitored transport facilities and reaching safely to the consumers’ hands. Food and agricultural Organization has also recommended the basic fixes to the bottom end of the supply chain. Metal grain silos have helped against fungus ruining grain stocks in countries in Africa.
In India, the F.A.O. is encouraging farmers to collect tomatoes in plastic crates instead of big sacks as they squish and rot less in the latter.
Choice of crop
The third action would be encouraging farmers and introduction of sustainable crop varieties. Globally four crops ie., rice, wheat, corn and soy represent 60% of all calories consumed. The world is facing major problems in the form of climate change, water scarcity, thereby worsening the condition of farmers and threatening food security. It is found that currently 40 % of the world’s land mass is arid and with increasing temperatures this figure will definitely go up. At the current rate of climate change, the amount of food grown today is said to feed only half of the population by 2030. The water scarcity is another impending crisis. Recent studies show that 28% of agriculture lies in water stressed regions.
And also, in developed countries less than 2 % of the people grow crops, where people hesitate to take this occupation. Rural and farming communities typically experience a higher level of poverty and hunger. Addressing these challenges will require helping farmers explore and identify a more diverse range of crops. Also focusing on smallholder farmers will increase production. To achieve this, it is necessary to work with farmers to ensure that they have access to necessary tools and skills. It is also required to educate communities about the nutritional importance of eating wide range of foods. For say, Millets would be a good alternative when comes to cultivation, requiring less water and withstanding adverse climatic conditions. And, it helps achieve nutritional security. Exposing people to these crops would help us in a great way.
The next action would be putting the needy people in the first line. This can be done only by the government with the support of non-governmental organizations by expanding the social protection schemes for the most vulnerable. Providing opportunities for equitable economic growth would also raise the purchasing power of the poor people. It’s better to teach the technique of fishing than to donate a fish. Focusing and investing on these would help in jump starting local economies.
It is thus obvious that reaching the figure of #ZeroHunger is a huge challenge in front of us and requires major integrity among all sectors towards it. Let’s start first by pledging that Food provided to us will never see the dustbin.
Srilavanyaa. K is a graduate of Food Process Engineering from Tamil Nadu Agricultural University. Her passion for the food sector and writing has brought her to the IMoT Agri Forum. Being a part of food industry, food safety is her prime concern. She finds at most satisfaction in penning down articles about it and considers a step forward in her career.