Of the total world population coming up to 700 crore, the number of people suffering from chronic hunger came to around 100 crore in 1996 which had been the main issue of concern during the World Food Summit (WFS)the same year.
The WFS defined food security to exist when the people had access to ‘sufficient, safe and nutritious food in order to maintain a healthy and active life’. The conference had targeted to halve the number of hunger-stricken people by 2015 and directed the countries to adopt steps to achieve the goal of freeing millions from extreme poverty and hunger. But in the present scenario, things haven’t gone smooth so far. Recently released reports say that armed conflicts, wars and economic and political instability have driven 80 crore people across the world into severe hunger. The survey conducted in 117 conflict-ridden countries reveals that 52 of them are facing “serious” or “alarming” levels of hunger. The list consists mainly of African nations that have been plagued with internal conflicts, racism and tribal warfare. Countries like Afghanistan and Yemen, which has been destroyed by the warfare and the millions of refugees fleeing persecution in those countries suffer from severe hunger. Food production as well as distribution isn’t happening in many countries around the world. The data from 13 other countries including Syria, Somalia and South Sudan are not yet known and if available, would be the same as in the 90s.
There are 14.6 crore malnutritioned children in the world who is under-weight. Wars and conflicts affect children the most. The WFS have been able to achieve 17 per cent success in achieving its goal by 2013. But things went topsy-turvy by 2015. Wars, internal disputes, uncertainties and instability of nations have hindered food production and distribution which has contributed to the increase in the number of hunger-stricken poor. According to the World Food and Agricultural Organisation, FAO, the amount of food produced in the world for human consumption which is wasted could feed over 200 million people. Approximately 1.3 billion tons of food which is one third of the total food produced in the world, gets wasted without even being of use to animals and birds. The global food losses and waste per year are roughly 40 per cent for fruits, vegetables and root crops, 20 per cent for oil seeds and 35 per cent for fish. In India, 40, 000 tons of food grains were damaged in the Food Corporation of India godowns across the country over the last two years.
While the rich countries waste more food, developing countries like India are not far behind. The food substances are damaged either due to poor storage facilities or failure in transporting them to the markets on time. The lack of adequate facilities to export the food products and pilferage are also other known reasons. The governments as well as the society should be giving deserved gravity to this global issue. Only then would the calls of hunger subside. The UN has now announced the goal of making sufficient food available to all the people by 2030 aiming at a complete elimination of hunger and starvation from the face of the earth within the next 15 years. But given the sluggish progress and the recent setback related to the matter, accomplishing the goal seems a distant dream.