FOOD SECURITY SPECIAL SECTION
“A future without hunger is well within our reach”
It would take just 3% of the global food supply to provide the additional calories needed by the 13% of the world’s population who go hungry every day. Yet up to half of the food produced worldwide is lost because of poor storage and inadequate transport in developing countries, and because people in richer countries throw away up to a quarter of the food they buy. Where food is available, price volatility makes it hard for poor people to afford it, with some households spending up to 80% of their income on feeding their families.
But a future without hunger is well within our reach; the solutions are simple. What is needed is the political will to address the obvious flaws in our scandalously ineffective global food system, a necessity that will become more and more urgent as the world population grows.
One of the best guarantees of improving food security is to increase investment in small farms. Some 500m smallholdings already feed 2bn people globally, although there is often too little to go around. Investment would improve smallholders’ access to natural resources and infrastructure, allowing them to diversify their crops and benefit from new agricultural techniques and research, and increase their resilience to economic and climatic shocks. If this investment prioritised women, who make up the majority of small-scale farmers, there could be 150m fewer hungry mouths to feed.
Action is also needed to tackle land grabbing by powerful investors, which deprives local communities and poor people of the land they need to grow food. Better regulation and improved land rights are crucial to protect poor people’s access to natural resources and prevent further inequality.
Planet earth may well have finite resources, but there is no need for one in seven people to go hungry on a daily basis, and 18m West Africans to be facing an acute food crisis, when there is enough food for everyone.
Barbara Stocking is the Chief Executive, Oxfam, Great Britain