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A world of plenty yet billions are hungry

JONATHAN Sacks once noted that, “Close to a billion people – one-eighth of the world’s population – still live in hunger. Each year 2 million children die through malnutrition. This is happening at a time when doctors in Britain are warning of the spread of obesity. We are eating too much while others starve.”

And then Dwight Eisenhower observed that, “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”

And today, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has revealed that one in 10 people are hungry and three billion cannot afford healthy diets.

According to IFAD’s report assessing agroecology, a system that combines farmers’ traditional knowledge with scientific innovations, and integrates ecological, economic and social development, is one of the effective ways to transform food systems to address rising hunger, malnutrition, climate change and ecosystem fragility.

“We live in a world of plenty yet one in 10 people are hungry, and three billion people cannot afford healthy diets. Adopting agro-ecological practices is a major step to addressing these failures in our food systems,” said IFAD sustainable production, markets and institutions division director Thouraya Triki.

There’s urgent need to bring about equity and foster sustainable development. As Federico Garcia Lorca observed, “The day that hunger is eradicated from the earth there will be the greatest spiritual explosion the world has ever known. Humanity cannot imagine the joy that will burst into the world.”

It’s unacceptable and in fact it is criminal to continue seeing billions of people on planet earth going without food in a world of plenty. How can it be? Who can one explain this absurdity, this injustice? Where are governments? Where are human rights? Is this humanity?

But this hunger has an origin in the greedy governance system that puts profits at the centre of life! The individual consumerism and profit-driven nature or philosophy that characterises the capitalist order cannot survive in a world that pursues equality, fairness and attainment of universal human rights! This is why access to health services, water and sanitation, education, food, and other basic but essential services or ingredients of life are never free. Human dignity is never a priority for capital – it’s a commodity accessible at a price. And for as long as the current global economic order is not reformed or conquered billions more will be added to the statistics of hunger, malnourished, illiterates, including disease-afflicted despite speeches at global level to address these ailments – mostly avoidable problems.

To this effect, Fidel Castro argued that, “Capitalism has neither the capacity, nor the morality, nor the ethics to solve the problems of poverty. [Hence] we must establish a new world order based on justice, one equity, and on peace.”

And Herbert Hoover emphatically said, “The only trouble with capitalism is capitalists; they’re too damn greedy.”

But humanity must quickly find courage to reconcile with itself before the human species becomes an embarrassment to itself and indeed lead itself to extinction.

This is why Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva warned that, “Hunger is actually the worst weapon of mass destruction. It claims millions of victims each year.”

There’s need to appreciate that all those in need are not statistics or numbers in the books but human beings – our brothers and sisters! The world must change for the better. Indeed, everyone has a responsibility, an obligation to ensure equity, justice and peace.

As Jeff Bridges notes that, “One of the greatest feelings in the world is knowing that we as individuals can make a difference. Ending hunger…is a goal that is literally within our grasp.” And quote Norman Borlaug, food is a moral right of all who are born into this world.

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