How do we make our leaders focus on food issues? It's in all our hands
Photo: Tom Pietrasik/ActionAid
Every Year on 16 October communities, activists, officials around the world commemorate World Food Day. It’s a day to remember the achievements of millions of small scale food producers who continue to produce the majority of the world’s food. It’s a day to remember the millions of rural women around the world who are providing food for their families through their ingenuity in spite of the odds being stacked against them.
For many years we (urban consumers) had been complacent – our food was available, more or less on time, and more or less at a reasonable price. We did not think beyond the food in the local markets or in our supermarkets. Questions of who is producing the food, how it is being produced, what are the implications of the choices we are making as consumers, what are the implications of the policies of our governments and the practices of our corporations were not our concern.
All this changed during the 2007-2008 food price crisis – when prices rocketed fuelled by shortages, high input costs such as fuel and were hit hard by the financial crisis. Suddenly, national governments and global leaders took note. They set in place systems to look at failures in the global governance of food. There was a renewed focus on farming and investment in smallholder-led agricultural development. African governments renewed their efforts to meet the Maputo Declaration and targets set for African Agricultural Development and food security. Governments in South Asia started talking about how to make their regional food reserves work effectively.
There was a focus once again on sustainability of our food system. But how long this focus will last is in ALL our hands. As consumers, citizens, activists, food producers, policy makers, media, students we all have a role to play.
The challenge is clear in front of us – to produce healthy food now and for the future in a way that respects both the food producers and the environment. Food is not like other tradable commodities - it has deep cultural, religious, ecological, environmental, social, political, economic implications.