October 16, Thimphu: World Food Day (WFD) is observed every year on 16 October to mark the foundation day of FAO since its inception in 1945. Events of different natures were organised in over 150 countries across the world, making it one of the most celebrated days of the UN calendar. This year the global theme was “Our Actions are Our Future; Zero Hunger World by 2030 is possible”.
The day in Bhutan was marked at NRDCL with School Agriculture Programme (SAP) award winners, students, teachers, government officials and members of UN organisations. The day promotes worldwide awareness and action for those who suffer from hunger and for the need to ensure food security and nutritious diets for all. WFD is a chance to show our commitment to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 to achieve Zero Hunger by 2030 as well as celebrate the progress towards reaching Zero Hunger world.
‘‘Achieving Zero Hunger will be our biggest challenge but it can be possible with progressive policies in place, adequate investment and professional implementation of programs and activities. However, while striving to increase production of food in the most sustainable manner, other measures such as conflict management, climate change mitigation and better preparation for droughts and floods, need to be addressed concurrently,’’ said the Director General of DAMC. ‘‘A functional agriculture and food system will not only boost food security but also has the potential to create business and employment opportunities, mitigate rural-urban migration, create more resilient livelihoods with better social protection, reduced conflicts over natural resources and sustainable solutions to environmental degradation and climate change,’’ he added.
The Department of Agriculture has been the focal agency representing Bhutan to organise World Food Day in Bhutan in collaboration with FAO and WFP Bhutan and relevant government agencies such as DSE, DoL, DoFPs and DAMC. The annual Best School Farm Awards for SAP is one of the important activities during WFD since 2000. The aim of the day was to create public awareness and educate the general public on the efforts made by FAO and WFP and other UN agencies on their efforts to fight against the hunger and importance of food and express our solidarity in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition and poverty.
SAP was started with six pilot schools in the first year and now it includes 315 schools in the country. These schools are engaged in various agricultural activities to supplement students’ nutritional intake and inculcate farming and agri-business as an attractive alternative livelihood option. Under this program, some schools have also ventured into poultry, piggery and mushroom cultivation.
Ensuring food and nutrition security and poverty alleviation, among others are some of the major national objectives of the Ministry in the 12th FYP that is very much in line with this year’s WFD theme.
This year is the 73th birth anniversary of FAO and 38th years that FAO member countries have been observing this day. FAO has become an independent international organisation in 1985 and this year is the 33th year of FAO in Bhutan.
According to the 2017 State of Food Security and Nutrition report, 815 million people suffered from hunger in 2016, an increase of 38 million people compared to 2015 (777 million). This was largely due to conflicts, droughts and floods around the world, resulting difficulty in achieving the food self-sufficiency in the world. Inclusive rural development can help on all fronts, curbing conflict, boosting sustainability and making rural communities more economical through agriculture development and opting to remain in rural communities with no fear of food shortage encouraging each individuals a pride to be in rural communities.
Karma Loday with picture by Choidup Zangpo, ICTD
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