Some 870 million people are hungry in the world today, whilst another two billion suffer from at least one deficiency in micronutrients such as zinc and essential fatty acids. A quarter of all children under five are stunted and 31 per cent suffer from Vitamin A deficiency. These are the conclusions of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in its flagship annual publication The State of Food and Agriculture.
Calling for resolute efforts to eradicate malnutrition and hunger, FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva said: “we have a long way ahead” in which billions have a shortened, reduced quality of life.
Improving supply chains, upping nutritional quality of foods, investing in labour-saving farming technologies and cutting food losses are regarded as essential and the FAO also want to see women given greater control over resources. The organisation highlighted successful vegetable and pulses projects in East Africa, the promotion of home gardens in West Africa and the encouragement of mixed vegetable and animal farming systems together with income-generating activities in some Asian countries.
Also making progress has been Venezuela, which has received a certificate of recognition from the FAO for achieving part of the Millennium Development Goal of eradicating hunger by halving the proportion of people who suffer from hunger. This goal was established in 1996 to be achieved by 2015.
FAO statistics say that 13.5% of Venezuelans suffered from hunger in 1990-92, compared to 5% in 2007-2012. The FAO representative in Venezuela Marcelo Resende said: “the government has been able to understand that food is everyone’s right and not just the privilege of the few, and it has based it works on that.”
The record of the Venezuelan government in agriculture has been matched in health with child mortality rates down from 31.32 deaths per thousand in 1990 to 13.90 in 2012, whilst the death rate from tuberculosis has also fallen by over half in the same period. Despite these considerable achievements hostile elements in the US and the old Venezuelan elite are intent on preventing the Venezuelan people from determining their own future, with numerous attempts to overthrow the elected government.
Matt Willgress, Venezuela Solidarity Campaign coordinator said," Venezuelan achievements in tackling hunger and malnutrition join a long list - including in areas such as tackling poverty, eradicating illiteracy and improving public health - that have been internationally lauded for showing a better world is possible. By putting people first, and redistributing resources, Venezuela shows there is an alternative to the failed policies of neo liberalism.”
Unite supports the progressive changes that have been made in Venezuela and are one of 18 national unions that are affiliated to the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign. To find out more, including how to get your branch to affiliate, go to www.venezuelasolidarity.co.uk