Challenges for Europe and Central Asia

| Foreign Markets |

A regional conference organized by FAO was held in Bucharest in the first week of April. One of the main conclusions following the experts’ meeting is as follows: it is not hunger, but malnutrition resulting from micronutrient deficiency and low calorie value of meals that is the most important problem for Europe and Central Asia.

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We waste plenty of food

| Foreign Markets |

While one eight of the human population suffers from malnutrition, 1.6 billion tonnes of food worth c. 750 billion USD are thrown away annually. The figures come from the latest report published by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Food which has not been consumed would cover 1.4 billion hectares or 30% of farmland on Earth. To produce this food, it was necessary to use 250 km3 of water, an acutely lacking resource for inhabitants of many parts of the world. The quantity is the same as the annual water flow in the Volga and three times as big as the volume of Lake Geneva. Regrettably, such wasteful activity must lead to depletion of natural resources available to us.

Uneven access to food results in a situation in which the industrialized Asian countries which are also large agricultural producers, such as China, Japan and South Korea, waste the most vegetables (c. 11%) and cereals (c. 8%) in the world. At the same time, 13 million inhabitants of East Africa are in dire need of food aid.

Proper management of goods meant for immediate consumption ought to result in a more efficient use of the food produced. Such trend would firstly benefit the natural environment, and secondly help the local economy, provided that less food is thrown away. We ought to give this some serious consideration, starting as of today, from economical management of the contents of our fridges.

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Famine is the challenge for the modern world

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Despite a fall in the number of the people who are chronically undernourished, famine remains an unsolved problem. It has been possible to reduce the scale of the phenomenon to a large extent, thanks to dynamic economic growth in some parts of the world. Still, the issue remains an acute problem for the whole globe.

Global problem

In 2011-13, 842 million people in the world consumed too little food to satisfy the daily nutritional requirements of their bodies. The figure means that famine affects 12% of the world population. Admittedly, there has been some progress, as this proportion stood at 17% in 1990-92. However, as many as 827 million people trying to cope with undernourishment inhabit the developing counties!

Weapons in the war on hunger

A stable political situation in a country, access to natural resources and economic growth (often based on cheap labor) all result in a decrease of the number of the hungry. Lack of warfare and natural disasters provide favorable conditions for agricultural development and secure safe access to foodstuffs. Regions where situation has improved in this respect are Central, East and South-East Asia, Latin American countries and states in the Caribbean.

Farming is the opportunity

Today there are 2.5 billion people in the world who make a living as farmers, using 40% of the land on Earth for this purpose. On the other hand, there remain many countries, in particular developing ones, which do not make the most of the opportunities that the latest technological innovations in agricultural science have brought. However, a wider use of artificial fertilizers which increase volume of crops may prove an efficient tool for combating global famine.

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