Capitalism has conquered the whole world, and in such an era of production, we would expect nearly everyone to be in good living conditions and have access to nutritious food. Unfortunately, we observe just the opposite. Nearly 8.9% of the world population is facing severe hunger conditions and related diseases. World Food Program revealed the main reasons are wars, climate change, and economic downturns. And recently, the COVID-19 outbreak has also contributed to this number, putting another 130 million people at risk of hunger. These huge and destructive causes of acute hunger all over the world make the eradication of hunger one of the most challenging goals to reach. It is not only a matter of not having food to survive, but it also causes poor health conditions and slow progress in other areas of development like education and employment. Hence, they have set their goal to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture.
Hunger is not only a deal of not finding food. It is also a matter of finding proper and healthy food to eat. United Nations determined their target goals accordingly with the will of anyone not to suffer from hunger again in mind:
- Hunger should come to an end with all people, especially the ones in poor or vulnerable conditions, having access to nutritious and sufficient food all year round. Everyone has the right to eat nutritious food to survive and to avoid any kind of illness.
- With hunger ending, what is meant is an end with proper nutritious food. All forms of malnutrition should be eliminated. In this case, especially adolescents, children under 5, pregnant or lactating women, and old people should be a priority followed by the rest of the society members.
- Although we live in a world of machines, agriculture is still the main food resource of our lives. Hence, enough importance and effort should be put into agricultural productivity. To eradicate hunger, agriculture should be encouraged by doubling its productivity. For such purpose, secure and equal access to land, knowledge, financial service, markets, and opportunities should be provided, primarily to the small-scale food producers, indigenous people, family farmers, pastoralists, and fishers. Agricultural productivity can also be enhanced by implementing resilient practices to increase production that help maintain ecosystems. This will eventually contribute to strengthening the capacity for adaptation to climate change, extreme weather conditions, drought, flood, or any other natural or human-made disasters.
- An increase in agricultural productivity will not happen by itself, but instead, it needs some help from outside. Hence, investments through enhanced international cooperation, agricultural research and extension services, technological developments, and plant and livestock banks should be encouraged.
- Any trade restrictions will hinder some countries to reach a range of products. Hence, any trade restriction or distortion in world agricultural markets, including through the parallel elimination of all forms of agricultural export subsidies and export measures, should be corrected and prevented.
- Maintaining genetic diversity is another important goal to reach 0 hunger. The diversity of seed, cultivated plants, farmed and domesticated animals, and their related wild species should be maintained. Seed and plant banks at national, regional, and international levels should be encouraged to be built, promoting equal and fair access to the share.
- After the production is completed, another important place of consideration is the markets. Food commodity markets should be ensured to properly function and facilitate timely. Measure to food reserves should be determined so that extreme food price volatility is limited.
Fortunately, in the last years, World Food Program has revealed some good news. According to their analysis, rapid economic growth and increased agricultural production over the past decade have decreased the proportion of undernourished people almost by half. Many countries that used to suffer from famine such as Latin America, the Caribbean, and East Asia now made huge progress to meet the nutritional needs of the most vulnerable. However, this does not mean that hunger is totally eliminated. It still remains a huge barrier to development in many countries. Still, over 90 million children are dangerously underweight and one person in every four still suffers from malnutrition in Africa. With more than a quarter of a billion people potentially at the brink of starvation, swift action needs to be taken to provide food and humanitarian relief to the most at-risk populations.
In the light of the COVID-19 outbreak’s effects on the food and agriculture sector, prompt measures are needed to ensure that food supply chains are kept alive to mitigate the risk of large shocks that would have a considerable impact on everybody all around the world. In order to address these risks countries and us individuals have some responsibilities to carry out:
- Governments should provide sufficient and nutritious food to their vulnerable populations in need.
- Governments should boost social protection programs where huge distinctions among society are prevented to get deeper.
- Governments should keep global food trade going, although, the economic status is not in its best conditions due to the pandemic.
- Governments should make sure besides the global food trade, the domestic supply chains are also working properly.
- Governments should support small businesses and farmers to increase food production by financial or resourceful support.
- Individuals are encouraged to buy local and in-season food. Even home-farming can be tried.
- As individuals, we shouldn’t be wasting food. It is not even a topic of discussion.
- The non-consumed food can be frozen so that it can be consumed later on without going bad.
- Consuming less meat is also encouraged. Although being a vegetarian is a matter of choice, it should be kept in mind that the meat production industry has a huge negative impact on environmental conditions.
Currently and unfortunately, hunger is the leading cause of death in the world. Although we have access to a tremendous amount of resources, the unequal access and inefficient handling leave millions of people malnourished. If we manage to promote sustainable agriculture with modern technologies and fair distribution system, we can sustain the whole world’s population and make sure that nobody will ever suffer from hunger again.
“Zero Hunger: World Food Programme.” UN World Food Programme, www.wfp.org/zero-hunger.
“Goal 2: Zero Hunger – United Nations Sustainable Development.” United Nations, United Nations, http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/hunger/.
“Goal 2: Zero Hunger.” The Global Goals, http://www.globalgoals.org/2-zero-hunger.
“Goal 2: Zero Hunger.” Goal 2: Zero Hunger | Joint SDG Fund, jointsdgfund.org/sustainable-development-goals/goal-2-zero-hunger.
“Goal 2: End Hunger, Achieve Food Security and Improved Nutrition and Promote Sustainable Agriculture – SDG Indicators.” United Nations, United Nations, unstats.un.org/sdgs/report/2016/goal-02/.
“- SDG Indicators.” United Nations, United Nations, unstats.un.org/sdgs/report/2019/goal-02/.