|842m go hungry amid staggering waste of food
The United Nations marked World Food Day saying it was possible to eradicate hunger and stressing the importance of cutting food waste and ensuring balanced diets.
“We can win the fight against hunger,'' Jose Graziano da Silva, the director-general of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, said at a ceremony at FAO headquarters in Rome, AFP reports.
He said 62 out of the 128 countries monitored by the FAO had reached the Millenium Development Goal of cutting by half the number of hungry people from 1990 levels, showing the target was achievable by 2015.
The number of the world's hungry has gone down in recent years but still stands at 842 million people.
One of the main themes being discussed on World Food Day is the cost of the 1.3 billion tonnes of food that go to waste every year – about a third of the total food produced.
“With just a quarter of that, we could feed the 842 million hungry,'' said Robert van Otterdijk, an agriculture industry expert at the FAO.
Mathilde Iweins, coordinator of a report on the cost of food waste, said that “the agricultural areas used to produce the food that will never be eaten are as big as Canada and India combined.’’
But the FAO said focusing on the type of food being consumed was just as important, warning that bad diets place high costs on society.
“One out of every four children in the world under the age of five is stunted,'' the FAO said.
“This means 165 million children who are so malnourished they will never reach their full physical and cognitive potential,'' it said.
About two billion people in the world lack vitamins and minerals that are essential for good health, while 1.4 billion people are overweight.
Children with stunted growth may be at greater risk of developing obesity and related diseases in adulthood, in a worrying cycle of malnutrition.