I had the opportunity to visit the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 2009. In fact, I was invited to present my research paper on India’s self-help groups (SHGs) and closely observed FAO which I can mention quantitatively and qualitatively an asset for the people of the world. After coming from FAO, I felt delighted as that time Late Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Dr. Rajsekhar Reddy sir called me and greeted me.
On 16 October, World Food Day is celebrated every year as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) was established in 1945. In the field of agricultural development, food etc., FAO has been doing commendable work. Few points on this auspicious occasion collected from FAO’s websites are presented here for the benefit of readers and researchers.
- One in five people in developing countries lives on less than US$1.9 a day, and most of them live in rural areas. For their subsistence they depend on small-scale farming, forest resources, livestock and fishing.
- Food is the essence of life and the bedrock of our cultures and communities. Preserving access to safe and nutritious food is and will continue to be an essential part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly for poor and vulnerable communities, who are hit hardest by the pandemic and resulting economic shocks.
- Around 14% of food produced for human consumption is lost every year between the stages where it is grown or raised up to when it reaches the wholesale market. More food is wasted at the retail food and consumer stages.
- More than 3 billion people in the world lack access to internet and most of them live in rural and remote areas. Smallholder farmers need greater access to finance, training, innovation and technology to improve their livelihoods.
- Presently, only nine plant species account for 66 percent of total crop production, despite the fact that there are at least 30 000 edible plants. “We need to grow a variety of food to nourish people and sustain the planet. Nearly 690 million people are hungry, up 10 million since 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic could add between 83-132 million people to this number, depending on the economic growth scenario”.
- Over 2 billion people do not have regular access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food. The global population is expected to reach almost 10 billion by 2050.
It is pertinent to mention that FAO supports policies that enhance dialogue between small-scale producers, government agencies and private stakeholders. These policies strengthen the collective voice of farmers, pastoralists and fisher folk in local and national policy-making and increase access to agricultural markets, savings and credit facilities. Also, FAO aims to reduce rural poverty by supporting policies, which make it easier to self-manage land and productive resources, access social and financial services, as well as national and export markets. FAO supports equal access to technology, agricultural knowledge and market information through policies, which boost rural education for men and women using modern information technology and innovation in the provision of advisory services.
Lastly, FAO supports market and trade policies, which drive development, strengthen food security, reduce poverty and maximize environmental sustainability. Preserving flexibility in national policy options, allows developing countries to balance the needs of poor consumers and rural producers.
On this auspicious occasion wishing FAO more and more activities and praying Almighty “Long Live FAO”.
The following websites have been consulted while wrting the article:
Dr Shankar Chatterjee, Hyderabad