WFD: The Big Fight

WFD, another United Nations World Day? How boring! But this one isn’t. In spite of its bland name, WFD or World Food Day, it’s not about cooking for foodies, masterchef techniques and filling yourself up.

On the contrary, it’s about fighting hunger.

Peacekeeping - UNMEE

Fighting hunger has become the Number One objective of the United Nations:  Ban Ki Moon, the United Nations Secretary General, gives top priority to the elimination of hunger and has launched the Zero Hunger Challenge, calling on all partners, states and non-states actors, to scale up their effort and “turn the vision of an end to hunger into reality”.

A key part of this effort is World Food Day, the creation of FAO, itself the number one UN agency to fight hunger.

Celebrated regularly on October 16 since FAO was created in 1945, it focuses every year on a different aspect of the fight against hunger. For 2014, the theme is “family farming, feeding the world, caring for the earth”.

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In developed countries we think of farming as an industrial endeavour. But that’s not the case in the rest of the world.  98% of farms in the world are family farms – some 500 million farms and they feed most of the world…but not enough. FAO estimates there are 805 million hungry people in the world, some 800 of them in developing countries. Compared to the 1990s, that’s an improvement (it used to be over one billion) but much, much more needs to be done. And much of the planet’s resources needed to do this are at risk, from soil degradation and urban sprawl to overfishing.


Note: Zoom-in or right click on the image and open in new tab in order to see the various details of the map.

Yet family farming if it was allowed to function better could deliver the needed food. What is required is well-known and can be summed up in 4 points:

  • access to good seeds,
  • adequate storage for crops,
  • well-functioning markets and transportation,
  • financing and policy support.

On October 16 – tomorrow – take time to learn more about what farmers do and why they are essential to achieving Zero Hunger, and see if there’s something you can do too.

There are special events to celebrate the day across the world, from Italy (where FAO is headquartered) to the United States and beyond.  Find out about them, you have time till tomorrow. Participate and tweet about it, using the hashtag  #WFD2014, join the movement to end global hunger!

Finally here is a little short two minutes movie done back in 2012:

UPDATE: Today, October 16, Queen Maxima of the Netherlands came to the celebration in FAO. Here she is on the podium (at the centre):

And here she is up close, with the Director General of FAO:

About the Author /

Claude Forthomme is a writer and an economist. A graduate of Columbia University, Claude held a variety of jobs before starting a 25-year career at the United Nations (Food and Agriculture), ending as Regional Representative for Europe and Central Asia. She authored many fiction books under various pen names in both English and Italian; she is considered a prime exponent of Boomer literature and has founded the Boomer Lit Group on Goodreads. Her poetry has been included in "Freeze Frame", an international poetry anthology curated by British poet Oscar Sparrow (Gallo Romano Media, 2012).

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