FAO in Turkey

Turkey celebrates World Food Day 2019 with numerous events in various cities

FAO staff walking to Ragıp Tüzün Park with placards. Photo: ©FAO

Ankara, Turkey The theme of this year’s World Food Day “Our actions are our future: Healthy diets for a #ZeroHunger world” highlighted rising global hunger as well as increasing rates of obesity and overweight.

Emphasizing that achieving Zero Hunger (SDG 2) involves not only addressing hunger but also nourishing people, FAO called for action across sectors to make healthy and sustainable diets accessible and affordable to everyone. The organization also called on people everywhere to start thinking about what they eat.

In events organized across 150 countries, FAO and its partners emphasized that affordable solutions exist to reduce all forms of malnutrition, but that these require greater global commitment and action.

In Turkey, several stakeholders participated in numerous events celebrating World Food Day including the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, the World Health Organization, Fırat University, the Turkish Food & Beverage Industry Association, the Chamber of Food Engineers, the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects and the Turkey Jockey Club.

Spanning an entire month, the celebrations began with a joint FAO-WHO symposium held at Fırat University, Elazığ on 4-5 October and the Adana Taste Festival on 5 October. Key participants in the symposium included high-level government official, academics and experts from the private sector and civil society.

On 10 October, World Food Day continued with a press conference jointly organized with WHO, which was held at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey before an audience of students of nutrition and dietetics and Members of Parliaments.

From 14 to 18 October, FAO organized World Food Day panels with the participation of provincial directorates of agriculture and forestry, city halls and chambers of food engineers from Istanbul, Ankara, Bursa and Kırıkkale.


“We need more diverse nutrition to provide healthy diets

FAO has issued cross-sector calls for action to make healthy and sustainable diets accessible and affordable to everyone. The organization is also calling on everyone to start thinking about what we eat.

In this context, Aysegul Selisik, Assistant FAO Representative in Turkey, and Dilara Kocak, nutritionist and supporter of the FAO Zero Waste Zero Hunger project, conveyed information on healthy diets on TV and radio show interviews during World Food Day. They emphasized that our diets consist largely of only 200 crops and only eight crops (barley, beans, groundnuts, maize, potatoes, rice, sorghum and wheat) supply more than 50 percent of our daily calories.

As Dilara Kocak explained: “We need more diverse nutrition to provide healthy diets. Currently, our diets depend heavily on three crops: wheat, maize and rice. This is making not only people sick, but the soil as well.”


“Now is the time to rethink how we grow, share and consume our food”

World Food Day took place on 17 October in Istanbul. Celebrated within the 5th Sustainable Food Summit, the event brought together related stakeholders of the sector including leading food brands, entrepreneurs, investors, international organizations, and representatives of public and civil society.

FAO Subregional Coordinator for Central Asia and Representative for Turkey, Viorel Gutu, noted that “now is the time to rethink how we grow, share and consume our food”, adding that, “if done right, we can provide nutritious food for all and create better lives for the generations to come”.

In his remarks, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Bekir Pakdemirli, stated that one in three people in Turkey is obese. World Food Day represents an opportunity to reverse this trend by raising awareness about this issue. 

At the World Food Day session, which took place after the opening remarks, Aysegul Selisik, the Assistant FAO Representative in Turkey, stressed the need for collective action to ensure that everyone has access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to achieve zero hunger.

Noting that 80 percent of global agricultural production falls on the shoulders of over 500 million smallholder farmers, Selisik explained further:

“The demand for food will increase with the rising population. To respond this demand, agricultural production should also increase 70 percent by 2050. The more we reach out to smallholder farmers, the more we can support them economically and contribute to the continuity of global agricultural production.”

At a “Respect Food, Respect Farmers” session held during the second part of the summit, Chef Mehmet Gurs stressed that how and where food is produced is also significant when it comes to healthy diets.

“The majority of the people are getting sick due to industrial processed foods. [Family] farmers work more efficiently compared to multinational food companies and they feed us with safe and nutritious food. If we want to genuinely talk about sustainability, we need to support family farmers first and foremost. Because if there is no farmer, there is no food; when there is no food, there is no future.”

The series of events ended with the traditional World Food Day Horse Race held at the Turkey Jockey Club on 19 October. 




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