Address malnutrition in PNG

Editorial

EVERY day, people around the world do not have enough food to support a healthy, active lifestyle.
Today, over 800 million people are suffering chronic undernourishment, according to the latest FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation) report.
Conflict, extreme weather events linked to climate change, economic slowdown and rapidly increasing overweight and obesity levels are reversing progress made in the fight against hunger and malnutrition.
Papua New Guinea is no exception to this as the country is not immune to any of the above mentioned issues.
We join the rest of the world in celebrating World Food Day which falls every year on Oct 16 in honour of the date of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations in 1945.
The day is celebrated widely by many other organisations concerned with food security, including the World Food Programme and the International Fund for Agricultural Development.
This year’s theme is ‘Growth, Nourish, Sustain, Together’.
The theme reminds us that food is the essence of life and the bedrock of our cultures and communities.
Preserving access to safe and nutritious food is and will continue to be an essential part of our fight against hunger, also during our response to the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly for poor and vulnerable communities who are hit hardest by the pandemic resulting in economic shocks. The Covid-19 global health crisis has been a time to reflect on things we truly cherish and our most basic needs.
It is also a time to recognise the need to support our food heroes – farmers and workers throughout the food system – who are making sure that food makes its way from farm to fork even amid disruptions as unprecedented as the current Covid-19 crisis.
In PNG, the key challenges to food security are poor quality dietary, poverty and climate change.
Food security is an issue that needs to be highlighted before it reaches the crisis point in nutrition.
Rural poverty is primarily caused by low level of incomes and poor access to socioeconomic services such as schools, hospitals and markets.
Dietary deficiencies are caused by limited access to protein foods, leading to high rate of malnutrition.
The Department of Agriculture and Livestock together with these actors will continue to work in partnership to make sure that our food systems grow a variety of food to nourish a growing population and sustain the planet together.
Ensuring the resilience of rural communities requires an approach that is mindful of the environment that leverages the power of technological innovation and creates stable and rewarding employment opportunities.
Our smallholder farmers need to adopt new, sustainable agricultural methods to increase productivity and income.
In spite of the importance of agriculture as the driving force in the economies of many developing countries, not just for providing food, we are of the view that this vital sector is frequently starved of investment.
The sad thing also is that PNG despite boasting that we are a country with resources galore and hectares of fertile agricultural land still cannot properly and adequately feed our rural population, especially children.

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