Food security needs attention

Nari, Normal

The National, Tuesday October 22nd, 2013

 WORLD Food Day was observed last Wednesday with the theme, ‘Sustainable food systems for food security and nutrition’. 

The day falls on every October 16 and is an important event observed by the international community. 

The day is observed annually to bring public awareness on the importance of food and nutrition security.

The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) of the UN said the theme was chosen to focus on the need for profound changes in our agriculture and food systems. 

The theme highlights the importance of having appropriate food systems that aim to promote quality production and consumption of appropriate foods and diets that are nutritious and healthy. 

It emphasises the importance of exploring the changes that are required to enable our agriculture and food systems in meeting today’s challenges and to support future needs on a sustainable basis.

The main event to observe the day in Papua New Guinea was held at the National Day Park, in Goroka, Eastern Highlands. 

It was led by the Department of Agriculture and Livestock (DAL) and the Fresh Food Development Agency (FPDA) with support from the Eastern Highlands provincial adminstration, Coffee Industry Corporation, Department of Health, National Agriculture Research Institute (NARI), and other sectoral agencies and  stakeholders. 

The event was reportedly well attended, with many partners and stakeholders taking part in a variety of activities. 

NARI congratulated  DAL and FPDA for taking the initiative to commemorate the day, saying the institute would continue to support such efforts towards promoting food and nutrition security through the many innovative research projects it was undertaking. 

Stakeholders coming together to commemorate such events is essential. It allows us to better understand what the food system is, who is behind it, what our roles are and what needs to be done.

It is essential because stakeholders will collectively discuss and devise ways on how to address the challenges we are faced with. 

Our challenge here is to ensuring there is sufficient nutritious food for everyone, especially in light of changing climate and other global trends.

A food system is made up of the environment, people, institutions and processes by which agricultural products are produced, processed and made available to consumers at affordable prices. 

The interaction of all players in the process determines accessibility and availability of nutritious food for healthy diets. 

We have to ensure we play our roles in the food systems and ensure such systems are oriented towards quality production of healthy and nutritious foods. 

This means our efforts in agriculture research and development should be aimed at promoting such food systems.

Again NARI believes that innovative agriculture based on scientific research and new knowledge can contribute significantly to such food systems. 

This makes scientific research crucial as improved technologies and practices required in such food systems that have to be developed from science and research. 

It is vital for innovative agriculture to be linked to and supported by appropriate policies and strategies. Unfortunately, we lack appropriate food-related policies or little prominence given to existing ones. 

In observing World Food Day and related event/activities, we should take time to reflect on the food crisis the world has gone through. 

The 2008 world food crisis forced many people into hunger and global unrest. 

The world population is expected to reach more than 9 billion people in 2050. 

To feed them, the focus is to increase food production by 70% and may be higher in developing countries. 

This is a worthy and essential goal but comes with challenges. We should ask ourselves this question: “How is the world going to get 70% increase in food production?” 

By asking this question, we must begin to appreciate and realise that the food we have each day is a product of a complex and broken global food system. 

While we produce most of what we eat, certain amounts of food are imported, thus we need to appreciate the global food system.

NARI wishes  to continue to play its role with other partners in our food systems. 

With its research programmes and facilities located across the country, NARI will continue to provide support and contribute towards promoting food and nutrition security, generate employment opportunities for the overall wellbeing of the farming and rural communities in the country and the region.

NARI continues to develop effective partnerships to support partners/stakeholders in the agriculture sector to open the door for new opportunties to achieve our common goal of sustainable food systems for food and nutrition secure PNG.