Tackling Global Hunger

Written by
Claude Nankam
Published on
August 8, 2022 at 2:25:00 PM PDT August 8, 2022 at 2:25:00 PM PDTth, August 8, 2022 at 2:25:00 PM PDT

The year 2020 saw a jump in the number of people falling into the “extreme poor” category, with an estimated 97 million COVID-19 induced new poor people in the world. The bulk of these families live in South Asia (58 per cent) and Sub-Saharan Africa (23 per cent).

While the total impact of the conflict in Ukraine on the global economy remains uncertain at this stage, the most vulnerable countries and populations are expected to be hit hard by slower economic growth and increased inflation. This comes at a time when the world is still attempting to navigate the recession triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is now reported that inflation after the start of the war in Ukraine pushed an additional 71 million people into poverty in the span of just three months. Food prices were already high before, but the war is driving them even higher. Commodities most affected include wheat, maize, edible oils, and fertilizers. Lower income countries rely on these imports and do not have the capacity to deal with the shock of increased prices. Many families are going without food; some are beginning to starve.

The 2022 State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World Report (WHO) dissipates any doubt that the world is moving backward in its effort to end hunger, food insecurity, and malnutrition.

To change course and truly begin to reduce hunger in all its forms, I believe agri-food systems must be transformed to become more resilient and deliver lower cost, nutritious food and affordable, healthy diets for all, sustainably and inclusively.

How do we get there?

Food for the Hungry (FH) has been and continues to ramp up initiatives that equip families—especially farming families—to apply cutting edge sustainable farming techniques that will feed them and their communities, in spite of climate change shocks and volatile global markets. These four steps outline some of FH’s aggressive programs to serve farmers and help grow a resilient future for all.

Step Up the PACE

We must improve and reinforce the quality of the Food Security and Livelihoods Participatory Agriculture Cascade Extension (PACE) system. Basically, in this system, FH equips community volunteers with new agricultural knowledge and skills that they, in turn, share with their peers neighbours, thereby “cascading” new techniques throughout their network.

In response to the pandemic, a remote assessment methodology was developed in 2021 to gather primary data to help develop relevant technical programs in FH partner communities. This method of assessment helped reduce the spread of COVID-19 among and between FH field facilitators and community stakeholders, while generating valuable data for planning and decision making on the food security needs of the communities. Next year, 2023, FH will initiate the digitization of the PACE system for an even closer relationship with smallholder farmers and improved extension services.

Let Mother Nature Help

FH promotes and implements agricultural practices that regenerate the earth and naturally enrich soil. These techniques conserve and sustainably use biodiversity and ecosystem services. Ecosystems provide many of the basic services we need to survive. For example, plants clean air and filter water, bacteria decompose waste, bees pollinate flowers, and tree roots hold soil in place to prevent erosion.

Many agricultural practices work in harmony with the ecosystem and leverage its services to increase crop production. These include agroforestry, organic farming, agroecology, sustainable intensification, and integrated pest management. Farming with these methods is not only good for the earth, it’s good for the farmer! Chemical fertilizers and pesticides are responsible for greenhouse gas emission, can degrade the soil, are expensive, and often out of reach for smallholder farmers. Using sustainable farming cannot only reduce the agricultural carbon footprint, it can increase and protect a farmer’s crop production as well, without having to rely on potentially harmful, expensive products.

Draw On Ancient Wisdom

FH encourages farmers to integrate indigenous crops (also called “orphan crops”) such as fonio, pearl millet, and Bambara groundnut into their agricultural production. These nutritious crops that once ensured a balanced diet in rural households have progressively been neglected by research and extension systems because of their low economic value on the local and global markets.

But indigenous crops are naturally adapted to their environment, meaning they grow well and enhance rather than detract from local ecosystems. Re-introducing forgotten or abandoned crops expands a community’s biodiversity and thereby increases their food security and resilience. By intensifying the growth of indigenous crops, farmers can reduce their dependence on imported crops and foods (like wheat) that are becoming less and less affordable.

Recognize that Change Is a Process

We must always be mindful of the fact that transforming agri-food systems is a long process. To support smallholder farmers in communities making the change, FH is putting in place a strategy to reinforce and strengthen local Savings and Loans Groups. Through increased digitization, savings groups can enhance the financial inclusion of women and youth, increase their financial capital, and help create improved and sustainable livelihoods.

You can help farming families battle hunger and create sustainable futures for themselves and their children.

Give Now

Claude Nankam is the Director of Food Security and Livelihoods at FH USA. He hails from Cameroon and has decades of experience in food security. Watch the video “FH Approaches to Improve Food Security & Livelihoods in Communities” to hear him speak on these issues.