The contrasts are stark when it comes to global hunger, where today, nearly 11% of the world population goes to bed hungry.
Worldwide, one in four children below 5 years old is at risk of dying from malnutrition. Despite that staggering statistic, the childhood obesity problem is on the upswing around the world, with 41 million (6%) of children classified as overweight in 2016, up from 5.3% in 2005, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
For adults, the obesity rate is even worse and continues to accelerate, with 641 million (13%) of people overweight, primarily in North America, Europe and Oceania, where 28% of adults are classified as obese.
“Of the 815 million suffering from hunger, 490 million live in countries affected by conflict,” points out Hans Dreyer, FAO director of the plant production and protection division, located in Rome, Italy.
FAO’s mandate is to achieve food security for all and make sure people have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives.
More With Less. “By 2030, we will still have 600 million people without enough food to eat if we continue with business as usual. We need formidable changes to keep people from suffering from hunger,” he adds. “Our main challenge is to produce more with less.”
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According to FAO, there’s currently more than enough food produced in the world to feed everyone. However, the greatest challenges are how to ensure that a growing global population--some 10 billion people by 2050--has enough food to satisfy its nutritional needs.
“To meet that growing demand, we need to increase food production by 50% globally and by 100% in South Africa and Asia,” Dreyer says. “That will be difficult with our production constraints of no more land and no more water. We’re also seeing less than 1% yield growth annually in our major cereal crops of wheat, oats, rice and maize. So, we need to promote a wider range of crops and varieties, and that relates to biodiversity and genetic resources.”
Strategic Plan. Regardless, Dreyer points out FAO, with 194 member countries and nearly 11,000 staffers, is committed to reaching five strategic objectives:
1. to end hunger and malnutrition
2. to make agriculture, forestry and fisheries more productive and sustainable
3. to reduce rural poverty
4. to enable inclusive and efficient agricultural and food systems
5. to increase the resilience of livelihoods to threats and crises.
FAO plans to get the job done by:
• putting information within reach
• developing capacities
• providing policy support
• providing a meeting place for nations
• sharing know-how, skills and expertise.
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