In the first of our four-part series, A Zero Hunger Future, University of Minnesota's Sierra Williamson looks at how rural development is key to addressing the topic of food security, with the Sustainable Development Goal, Zero Hunger, in mind.
Rural communities aim for ‘Zero Hunger’ goal by 2030
The month of October was filled with excitement around the globe for the celebration of World Food Day 2018 on Oct. 16. What better place to celebrate food than in Rome? The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations hosted meetings throughout the week for the Committee on Global Food Security.
The meetings concentrated on discussions concerning worldwide progress being made on global food security measures, specifically relating to the second Sustainable Development Goal: Zero Hunger. The goal focuses on eliminating hunger completely by the year of 2030. Currently, one in nine — 815 million people — around the globe are considered to be malnourished, with the majority of the people living in a developing country. Furthermore, 45% of childhood deaths under the age of five are a result of undernourishment.
Josè Graziano da Silva, director of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations said, “Zero Hunger is not just about feeding people, but nourishing people.”
Achieving the goal of Zero Hunger must include a dynamic, collaborative solution involving public policy, the private sector, and all citizens on this planet including all countries. Based on the comments stated throughout the Committee on Global Food Security meetings, hunger can be divided into two parts: obesity and starvation.
Malnourishment is not solely defined by starvation, or a lack of a calorie-dense diet. Obesity is also a form of malnourishment of epidemic proportion that increases peoples risks to non-communicable diseases by consuming too many calories compared to the amount of exercise the individual is performing.
There are currently 38 million children under the age of five who are overweight and one in eight adults who also struggle with obesity. This health epidemic affects both developed and developing countries. Obesity is most prevalent in developed countries, most commonly found in North America. Discussion around obesity at the Committee for Global Food Security Meetings was related to low income budgets turning to foods that are calorie-dense and nutrient-poor including fast food and highly processed foods. These poor food choices are much cheaper and offer a high-calorie food source, which families resort to in an effort to combat their food insecurity. The delegates at the meetings promoted sourcing and creating fresh foods available to these families and also educating the youth on how to implement these fresh foods into their diets and preparing them to be tasteful.
Achieving the goal of Zero Hunger by reducing starvation requires, perhaps surprisingly, a continued emphasis on the empowerment of women, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization. With agriculture being the single largest employer in the world, employing more than 40% of the global population, there is a continued need for women to be included in active roles in agriculture. The female farmers of the world predominately run agricultural operations with the goal of producing enough food to feed their families, specifically in developing countries. Some of the ways women are empowered to promote efficient agricultural production includes education of methodology, implementation of technology, and utilization of proper storage techniques all of which help maximize yields. Finally, women need to continue to tell their stories about how they are driven to subsist and feed their families.
We heard about an example demonstrating the importance of storytelling in agriculture is a first-time farmer from Sewa, Zala Shardaben Fathesinh. Zala strives to produce food for her family to live on and had to begin her operation by borrowing money, and, as a result, was trapped in a vicious cycle of trying to pay the money back to the lender, while also producing enough food for the family. Zala discussed some of the challenges that she faces on a regular basis, including drought that has been worsened by climate change and a lack of technology to help optimize her operation. Zala’s story exemplifies issues being discussed within the United Nations to achieve the goal of Zero Hunger through the reduction of undernourishment.
Food is a basic necessity for life. The type of food available can determine the health and opportunities available to an individual. Civilization needs to strive to produce more food, on fewer resources, with more nutrients to sustain the growing population. How is this world going to be able to ecologically sustain the amount of food we need to produce to feed the entirety of the expected population of 10 billion?
Editor’s note: This series, A Zero Hunger Future, is generously sponsored by the UN-FAO. All editorial content is created independently. To discover more experiential learning opportunities, email email@example.com.