Why World Food Day is vital
4-Sep-2009 10:02 AM
World Food Day (WFD) will be celebrated on October 16, 2009 and the Ministry of Education, through its TVET Section, is co-ordinating this year’s celebrations and awareness, nationwide.
This year’s theme is Achieving Food Security in Times of Crisis in Fiji.
World Food Day aims at creating public awareness on the food problems worldwide and uniting all people to fight hunger, malnutrition and poverty. It provides an opportunity for us to acknowledge the real difficulties that we face at these times, especially when 14% of the world’s population do not have adequate food.
It challenges individuals, families, communities and nations, to re-look at how and where we obtain our food, and the means of sustaining our food supply.
Fiji will be celebrating this event in accordance with the global aims, however, household food security will be an additional issue for nationwide promotion.
Household food security means that everyone is able to eat enough of the right kinds of food. This is basic in our fight against hunger and malnutrition, which is usually exacerbated by poverty.
Statistics from the 2004 National Nutrition Survey revealed that many people in Fiji do not meet their daily food needs. This could lead to micronutrient diseases such as deficiencies in Vitamin A and iron.
The survey also showed that 46.7% of the population do not meet the minimum energy requirement of 1850 kcal/day (FAO, 2003-2005 estimate); and only 37.6% of the adult population are of healthy weight.
The poverty report of 1996 had indicated that 25% of the population were living below the poverty line, meaning that a significant percentage of families in Fiji’s population cannot afford nutritious meals.
The Food Balance Sheets show that there has been a proportional shift towards less energy provided by carbohydrates and more energy derived from fat and protein. In addition, energy from cereals (rice and wheat products) has continued to increase compared to energy from traditional root crops.
Fiji has become dependent on imported food, and this will naturally have impact on the price.
We are responsible for our own food security to ensure everyone is well fed. However, this becomes difficult when we are faced with circumstances beyond our control, especially during natural disasters or when there is a global recession.
In January, Fiji suffered from destructive floods and the local vegetable and fruit supply were badly affected.
By 16 October this year, Fiji would again be approaching its cyclone season. In this regard, policies must be in place to ensure people can either grow or buy sufficient food.
The Ministry of Education hopes that an early awareness on WFD would provide the much-needed impetus for people to realize the importance of food protection and sustainability for our families and our children.
Minister for Education, National Heritage, Culture and Arts, Youth and Sports, Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment.