Deputy Director-General, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
Progress made in reducing poverty and hunger has been lost, and many of the Sustainable Development Goals are unlikely to be achieved by the 2030 target date.
The frequency and intensity of emergencies, disasters and conflicts worldwide are rising and contributing to growing numbers of people facing hunger. Around 828 million people go to bed hungry; shockingly, two-thirds of them are farmers — the very people expected to feed us cannot afford to feed themselves.
Helping farmers tackle hunger by investing in agriculture
We must invest differently. The current reactive approach — dealing with one crisis at a time — fails to address the causes of vulnerabilities.
We prioritise the immediate needs of affected people for food aid, water and shelter but then neglect to address long-term impacts on people — such as farmers — and their livelihoods. When farmers lose crops and livestock due to droughts or floods, they may lack the means to replant their fields or purchase animals, hindering their ability to make a living and produce food.
Wemust make more meaningful investments in agriculture. Today, only 4 percent of food-related humanitarian funding goes to agricultural investments worldwide. The rest is for direct food assistance. We need a better balance, and we need to put resources (seeds, tools, veterinary assistance) in farmers’ hands. Farmers need access to the knowledge and tools to be equipped before disaster strikes. Why wait until an emergency — when it’s too late?
Today, only 4 percent of food-related humanitarian funding goes to agricultural investments worldwide.
Global agrifood systems transformation can end hunger
Investing in agriculture is almost 10 times more cost-effective than traditional, direct food assistance. In Mozambique, with just $5, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) can vaccinate a farmer’s goat. This can save the animal (worth $75) and provide a child with two glasses of milk daily.
We must pivot to resilience strategies and commit to agrifood systems transformation – from production to consumption. FAO’s expertise is unique in the United Nations system. We lead international efforts to end hunger and malnutrition and leverage science and innovation to tailor interventions to countries’ specific needs.
We also believe that creating impact at scale requires commitment from all stakeholders and meaningful private sector engagement. We are working closely with partners to build a better food future for all.
The views expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of FAO.