The Conference of the UN’s food agency, FAO, is taking place this week, against a backdrop of mixed news. Dozens of countries have halved the number of their citizens going hungry, meeting a key component of the first Millennium Development Goal (MDG) three years before the target date of 2015. The other component, extreme poverty eradication, is also making great strides.
The price of food, on the other hand, has been rising, causing great hardship in staple-dependent nations. Forecasts suggest the growth in agricultural production will decline by almost a third, to an annual 1.5 percent, in the next decade. The fall is being blamed on a combination of land and resource constraints, higher production costs, and environmental degradation.
Sustainable resource management, not least of forests, and the empowerment of women as nutritional gatekeepers are emerging answers, as the world looks beyond the current set of MDGs. With an end to hunger now within reach, concern is also growing about poor eating habits and dietary excess, in both developed and developing countries.