Food security has become a key issue on the global agenda. With the war in Ukraine, the rise in energy and fertilizer prices and the shortage of some productions, hunger has hit in different parts of the world. The forum organized by EL PAÍS and the Spain-United States Chamber of Commerce addressed the issue from different angles: the perspective of aid and development organizations, the business point of view and the contribution of non-governmental organizations.
Mario Lubetkin, regional representative for Latin America and the Caribbean of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), said that "the issue of food security is here to stay, like climate change or the energy crisis." He reviewed the explosive factors that have affected and aggravated the problem of hunger and food shortages in recent years, such as the pandemic, war, the cost of energy and climate change.
Also speaking was Alvaro Lario, President of IFAD, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, a specialized agency of the United Nations whose objective is to provide funds and mobilize additional resources to promote the economic progress of poor people in rural areas, mainly by improving agricultural productivity.
Lario highlighted how the trend in hunger reduction has been broken. "After the war in Ukraine, many heads of state and government in Africa and Latin America are putting food security at the center of their policies as a matter of national security for the first time," he said, recalling that Europe and the United States have done so for decades, but many countries in Africa and Latin America are very vulnerable in their production and vulnerable to shocks. External. "The international community is beginning to realize the importance of local production and the integration of regional markets," he said. "We focus on the last mile, on small farmers, on young people. In the last three years, our programs have increased the incomes of 77 million people," he added.
The business perspective was provided by Carlos Ignacio Gallego, president of Grupo Nutresa. "From the business world today we are very far from companies that had a strategy thought only inwards and what we are doing is worrying more about the other, about the related groups. We have to care about the expectations and needs of others," he said. "In the case of Grupo Nutresa, when we did that exercise of looking at the other, of looking outward, we found the reality of the problem of hunger."
Access to food
According to Gallego, "in Latin America, when one speaks of food security, the objectives of zero hunger and the fight against poverty merge." "There are people who are surprised that with so much land and with so much water, there is hunger. It is very simple: there is hunger because it is not enough that food can be produced: it is necessary that the population can access it. Fighting hunger is at the same time questioning the opportunities we are generating and how we achieve access. It is not enough that there is land. Nor is it enough that there is land if there is no productivity or if we sow what is not, because we would be condemning those populations to have products that they will not be able to market or condemning the population to buy more expensive things, deepening the cycle of poverty, "he argued.
Gallego stressed that from the business world there are a lot of opportunities to work in the production of more food, in increasing productivity, but also in the creation of income and the development of capacities for communities. "We are not talking about a matter of pity or assistance, but about how companies dare to work with others so that the other is able to get ahead. In companies we can do it out of conviction, because we believe it is our responsibility, and another out of obligation, because society will demand it. If an organization does not help solve the biggest problems of the society with which it interacts, society itself will ask for it," he explained. The president of Nutresa pointed out that in this issue is the opportunity to put into practice the sustainable development goal number 17, which speaks of partnerships for the achievement of the objectives. "Such big problems are not solved by anyone alone. What we entrepreneurs can do, who normally take a plan and make it a reality, is accelerate the solution, but alone we cannot, we have to work together."
Ana Catalina Suárez, Director of Strategy and Innovation at The Global Foodbanking Network pointed to the "gender gap" caused by hunger, which in Latin America is suffered by 10% more women than men. Hunger in children affects their intellectual development and hunger and poverty are intermingled. Suárez has also stressed the role of the third sector, of organized civil society, of the organizations that combat the problem. In addition, he also stressed how climate change affects the most vulnerable population, how the problem of food security becomes a political problem and how the cost of food affects hunger.
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