Published on: 09:50AM Oct 16, 2009
This Friday, October 16 was “World Food Day.” Thirty years ago (1979), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN issued the proclamation to heighten public awareness of the world problem of hunger and malnutrition.
The problem is real. One billion people, one in six, in the world today don’t get enough food to be healthy. Each year, 11 million children die before reaching the age of 5. A hungry mind cannot concentrate. Hungry bodies don’t have the energy to work.
We all know that you can’t fix a problem unless you know what causes the problem. Natural disasters such as floods, draughts, tsunamis, and wars all contribute to hunger. There is war in the Eastern Congo now with nearly a million killed and 900,000 displaced. The misery in Zimbabwe was forced upon a nation that had been a food exporter until President Mugabe confiscated the farms and gave them to his friends and the landless poor. Not a surprise, they don’t know how to run a farm.
We are not going to be able to put an end to natural disasters or even nation conflicts, but there are 2 things we can do.
We can deliver food to the needy when disaster strikes. We do that now through the World Food Program. I serve on the Board of the Friends of the World Food Program. The World Food Program does a terrific job.
The other thing that must be done or we will never make any progress in combating world hunger is to help the poor backward countries improve their agricultural production.
I have been there, in Africa, several times. Their little tiny garden-type farms hardly produce enough to feed the family that tends their crop. One farm in the U.S. produces enough food for 150 people. Their farms desperately need the best science and technology that has made ours great. In most cases, they don’t have hybrid seeds, they don’t use commercial fertilizer. They don’t control weeds and pests with chemicals. They need genetically engineered seeds.
Commercial science-based agriculture has been under assault recently by some high-profile elites in the country that pretend to know something. They don’t know anything, and don’t seem to have much compassion for the world’s hungry.
World Food Day reminds us that if you “give a man a fish, you feed him for a day; teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
Until next week, I am John Block from Washington, D.C.