The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) assesses that 842 million people across the globe suffer from hunger, which is 12% of the world’s population.
More than 70% of those who do not have regular access to healthy foods reside in rural parts of the world, including Africa, Asia and Latin America. In the U.S. alone, 1 out of 6 people does not have enough food to eat.
2 billion people are deficient in vital micronutrients. Women account for 60% of those who suffer from devastating hunger.
It is estimated that worldwide 26% of children do not develop properly because of malnutrition. 4 in 10 children who are malnourished will have developmental and neurological problems. Nearly 5 million children will not make it to their 5th birthdays because of the effects of malnourishment.
All of these numbers are likely even higher when considering those who are not reported, but who live with malnutrition and periods of food insecurity.
Among the high numbers are farmers who hold the responsibility of growing crops for the world.
More than 98% of farms across the globe are family owned farms. According to FAO statistics there are 570 million farms worldwide, and 500 million of these are family farms.
Family farms not only literally feed the world, but they also protect agricultural biodiversity and land conservation.
The United Nations General Assembly has elected this year the International Year of Family Farming, and the importance of the family farm is the spotlight of this year’s World Food Day.
Celebrated annually on October 16, World Food Day recognizes the establishment of the FAO, which was initiated on the same day in 1945 in Quebec, Canada. This day has been observed since 1979, and individuals and organizations still gather to proactively aid the problem of world hunger.
The effects of hunger are cyclical. Hunger is everywhere, not just in some far off place.
Unfortunately, wherever you are it is likely a local problem, too. I was reminded of this at the grocery checkout recently when the way-too-rail-thin man in front of me purchased only a single can of peas.
Though the above statistics represent dreadfully high numbers, the past 2 decades have shown that cases of extreme poverty and early mortality due to malnutrition have declined by half. Awareness is substantial, but action is immediately needed to further reduce the amount of people living along the lines of starvation.
Understanding the significance of the practice of farming, and celebrating but also supporting the family farm is one way that we can all help.
Statistics compiled by FAO and provided by World Food Day.
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