Rising hunger brings call for agricultural change

27 November 2020 | Muriel Cozier

‘…unless we are well organised and coordinated, the probability is that we will be too late and too ineffective for too many people…’

The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations held a meeting this week with speakers calling for action to transform agricultural food systems.

The online event: ‘Urgent call for agri-food systems transformation to achieve healthy diets for all’ brought together national leaders and experts who stressed the need for access to healthy diets and  the use of innovation to improve food and agriculture.

Highlighting the rise in chronic hunger over the last five years, FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu said critical drivers had to be implemented to reverse the situation.  These drivers include the use of innovation and digital technologies in agri-food systems to increase agricultural productivity sustainably. He also indicated the need to shift agricultural policies towards sustainable production of foods such as fruit, vegetables and fish, rather than high quantities of staples such as rice, wheat and maize. He also stressed the importance of reducing food loss and waste which would improve food security and nutrition, and reduce environmental pressures.

‘The resources – intellectual and material – are not lacking, but unless we are well organised and coordinated, the probability is that we will  be too late and too ineffective for too many people in the Least Developed Countries, the Land-Locked Developing Countries and the Small Island Developing States,’ Dongyu said.

As well as technical experts and policy makers, the event also featured a number of high level women from around the world calling for action to improve diets. The First Lady of Chile, Cecilia Morel stressed the need to address obesity which is leading to rising cases of non-communicable diseases, increasing the burden on healthcare systems. She called for policies promoting the consumption of fruits and vegetables with the focus on the most vulnerable populations having access to these foods.

At the beginning of November, the World Bank said that its new multi-donor trust fund, FoodSystems2030, had received its first donation. The initiative is aimed at ‘building the foundations for sustainable food systems that deliver improved livelihoods for all.’

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