Last updated on October 14, 2018
Food insecurity looms at almost every corner of the world, especially in developing countries. Development agencies have communicated valuable points about how to reduce hunger mostly in the developing countries but sad reports still make the day. Worryingly, 815 million people go hungry each day and 45% of deaths of children under 5 are connected to malnutrition and hunger. There is a twinkling hope as few countries tackle the hunger epidemics in their domains like Brazil with their Zero Hunger Programme which lifted 28 million people out of poverty and thereby reduced hunger. There is more the national governments can do to reduce the number of people that go to bed hungry. A lesson to be learnt from Brazil, the government saw hunger as a violation of human rights and further employed public prosecutors to take up the challenges/persons that violates the right to adequate food for the citizens especially the poorer ones.
The Niti Aayog of India is also a virtually useful body instituted by the Indian government to achieve a successful national development down from the villages to the urban centres. Its objectives connect unarguably with the sustainable development goals. Niti Aayog formulated a Model Agricultural Land Leasing Act to create an encouraging atmosphere between farmers that do not have lands of their own and the landlords thereby tackling the land challenges rural/poor farmers do face. Nevertheless, India ranked 100th position among 119 countries on Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2017 report released by the Washington-based International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
However, food policies are beneficial if they are implemented appropriately. Over 100 countries recognize the Right to Food and some observe it as a part of fundamental rights in their constitutions. The big question; is the Right to Food seen as the basis for implementing food policies and ending food insecurity? Does it serve as a compass to guide policy-making towards alleviating hunger and malnutrition?
Still, it is adopted by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in 2014 although not legally binding but should serve as obligations to fighting food insecurities. Its principles including good governance, government cooperation with civil societies, drafting and implementing policies that are awesomely friendly to the human rights approach likely seem to be. The Right to Food is not primarily the right to be fed after an emergency but could provide action plans before and during crisis especially for women and children. Around March 2018 in Nigeria, 100s of Internally Displaced Persons in different camps in Adamawa state staged peaceful protest over lack of food in their camps. They complained that food has not been supplied to them since early January 2018. The hunger usually drives many IDPs out of the camps in search of food as confirmed by a security officer. Medicines Sans Frontiers (MSF) reported in January 2018 that nearly 60,000 of IDPs at Bulka camp, Borno state of Nigeria are at the risk of starvation.
The salvation is not categorically based on policy making but on an efficient implementation of these policies. India along with its Right to Food Bill and agro-friendly policies from Niti Aayog, yet 250 million Indians still remain food insecure, ranking low on the Global Hunger Index 2017. In Pakistan, according to Tribune.com.pk, 405 million US dollars which were actually meant to achieve the Prime Minister’s Global Sustainable Development Goals like ending hunger were diverted for political purposes. At least, 43 percent of the country remains food insecure.
To tackle hunger, national governments should also include the small-scale producers in the policymaking. In many countries, these small-scale producers are excluded even in the food policies that affect them. The small-scale producers can be more efficient than the large-scale producers that more often based on long-term outputs. Credit loans should also be accessible to these fast cultivators. Right to Food depends on the accessibility to land usage by rural poor farmers. Small-scale farmers represent at least 50 percent of food producers in the world. The governments can help secure land titles for these rural farmers and prevent them to be ‘squatters’.
Gender inequality can be a setback towards alleviating hunger. In Africa and Asia, women involved in agriculture are about 50 percent but only 20 percent owns land. About 52 countries have not guaranteed equality between men and women
Wages must matter ending hunger. The Right to Food propels governments to respect, protect and fulfil the attainment of the Right to Adequate Food; therefore, increasing the minimum wages of workers is desirable in increasing the purchasing power. In Nigeria, the minimum wage of an average worker is 55 US dollars per month and unfortunately, he or she will depend on 1.8 US dollars daily. However, until a living wage is instituted not only nationwide but globally for all workers, many of the working poor will continue to go to bed hungry or rely on unhealthy and cheap diets.
Also, governments should avoid the enormous focus on a particular crop production in their countries. Growing not just staple crops such as rice but also vegetables have a shorter growing period, less water supply and soil nutrients is likely to reduce hunger. Zambia doubled in the production of its staple food crops, yet Zambia ranks 115 out 119 countries according to the Global Hunger Index 2017, making it one of the countries with an extremely alarming situation on hunger together with Chad, Sierra Leone, Madagascar, Yemen, Liberia, Central Africa Republic and Sudan.