"The question is not whether we can end hunger. It's whether we will."
United Nations World Food Day is October 16th - which commemorates the founding in 1945 of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, or FAO. This year's theme is “Agricultural cooperatives – key to feeding the world.”
In 2010, some 925 million people suffered from hunger on a regular basis.
There are many reasons why nearly one billion people do not have enough food. Natural and man-made disasters, such as floods, drought and war are big contributors to hunger. But in recent years, the global economic crisis and the resulting price volatility have aggravated the situation. Price swings, sudden upswings in particular, represent a major shock to food security in developing countries. According to the World Bank, in 2010-2011 rising food costs pushed nearly 70 million people into extreme poverty.
"Hunger is not only a physical condition," wrote Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. "It is a drain on economic development, a threat to global security, a barrier to health and education reform, and a trap for the millions of people worldwide who work from sun-up to sun-down every day to produce a harvest that often doesn't meet their needs."
The best way to achieve food security is to develop and support effective and sustainable farming systems in agricultural countries where chronic hunger is endemic. If we can make quality seeds, fertilizers, irrigation and other tools available to small farmers, and ensure access to the credit to pay for them and training to use them, their yields will increase. Reducing post harvest loss across the supply chain can dramatically improve overall productivity.
And making sure that the seventy percent of the world's farmers who are women, are allowed the same opportunities as their male counterparts, will help achieve food security goals.
Farmers must learn sustainable farming practices, so they can farm their land long into the future. But sustainable agriculture needs a clear and predictable policy and regulatory environment, so good governance and connectivity to markets are imperative.
The United States, through the Feed the Future initiative, works alongside numerous country partners to take the steps necessary to eliminate hunger among their populations.
"We have the resources to give every person in the world the tools they need to feed themselves and their children," wrote Secretary of State Clinton. "So the question is not whether we can end hunger. It's whether we will."