Friday, October 16 marked World Food Day, a global recognition of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. It concludes the World Food Prize Symposium, held in Des Moines, Iowa this year, when the World Food Prize is awarded.
This year’s distinguished recipient, Dr. Gebisa Ejeta, a professor of agronomy at Purdue University, said that the current food shortage is a “ticking time bomb.” Skyrocketing food and fuel prices in 2008 ultimately resulted in food riots in dozens of countries worldwide. “That was a wake-up call to lots of people and lots of governments,” Dr. Ejeta continued, “not so much because of the hunger concern, I’m afraid to say, but because of fear of political instability.”
World Food Day 2009’s theme, “Achieving food security in times of crisis,” certainly underscores the fact that these are trying times. In fact, they are times like no other in history. More than 1 billion people—a sixth of the world’s population—are hungry. Drought, political strife, and the current economic crisis have further compounded and complicated undernutrition and malnutrition. Thankfully, we can make progress.
In his World Food Day address, FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf said, “Generally, programs, projects and plans exist and are simply waiting for the political will and resources to become operational.” In other words, the time to act is now.