October 16 celebrates World Food Day, which marks the founding date of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations in 1945.
This year’s World Food Day, which also celebrated the FAO’s 70th anniversary, reflected on the theme “Social Protection and Agriculture: Breaking the Cycle of Rural Poverty”
As the FAO’s State of Food Insecurity in the World 2015 report notes –the proportion of undernourished people in the total global population has decreased from 23.3 percent in 1990–92 to 12.9 per cent today.
In the Oceania region, slow progress has meant the prevalence of undernutrition and underweight children has changed little since 1990. In many small island developing states in the region, the variety of nutrients available and acquired is limited, and slow progress in increasing access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation facilities has contributed to lack of progress in reducing food insecurity. Moreover, the region is also suffering from ‘westernization’ of food consumption patterns, resulting in a rising prevalence of overweight and obesity.
APGPD member Senator Anne McEwen moved a motion to mark World Food Day, noting that malnutrition contributes to 3 million of the 6 million deaths of children under the age of 5 each year; and 162 million children around the world suffer from stunting, an indicator of chronic under-nutrition. Senator McEwen stated that the estimated economic benefits of action to improve nutrition outweigh the additional costs by up to 18 to 1.