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Strengthening food security


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The right to food is one of humanity’s basic human rights and is a topic of great concern in several parts of the world including our own. Today, we celebrate World Food Day, and it is vital that we look to eradicate hunger in all forms and implement sustainable policies to improve the agricultural sector and the distribution of resources.

After steadily declining for over a decade, global hunger appears to be on the rise once more, with multiple forms of malnutrition threatening the health of millions.

The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World warns that the greater number of conflicts, whose impacts are often exacerbated by climate-related shocks, is one of the main drivers behind this shift.

According to the Food and Agriculture (FA) Organisation of the United Nations, roughly 795 million people live in chronic undernourishment – which is one in every nine people. There are nearly five million children under the age of 15 who lose their lives due to malnutrition-related causes each year. Four in 10 children in poor countries suffering from malnutrition are in danger of damaging their bodies and brains.

This year, Sri Lanka has faced fresh food safety concerns following a debilitating drought in several parts of the country which has greatly affected food production and distribution. A month ago, about 2.2 million people were reportedly affected by the conditions while Government officials reckon the recent rains as well as those expected later this month will ease that number to around 1.7 million.

The National Food Production Battle, implemented under the guidance of the President, was kicked off with the aim of boosting the national food production program and reviving the agricultural sector. Furthermore, the President also announced that the Government would remove all taxes on imported agricultural equipment in order to boost the sector.

However, concerns still remain over the long-term solutions that are yet to be implemented to strengthen food security in the country along with more consistent production and distribution. 

This year, the theme of the World Food Day program will be ‘Change the Future of Migration’, which has also become a pertinent topic in Sri Lanka. The Director-General of FAO will be joined by Pope Francis and Ministers of Agriculture attending the Group of Seven (G7) meetings for the official ceremony on 16 October at FAO Headquarters. For the first time, the Pope is scheduled to attend in person and call on the international community to change the future of migration.

More people have been forced to flee their homes than at any time since World War II due to increased conflict and political instability. Hunger, poverty, and an increase in extreme weather events linked to climate change are other important factors contributing to the migration challenge which are all relevant to Sri Lanka at this moment.

The country has dealt with a devastating 30-year war and a series of natural disasters including annual droughts in key agricultural areas around the country. Food security has also been heavily affected by the cost of food that successive governments have failed at keeping moderate. High transports costs have also ensured that post-harvest losses have been consistently high.

The Government must focus on addressing food security problems and wastage in a meaningful and sustainable manner. We cannot continue to implement reactive measures in solving a problem of increasing concern each year.

 


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