Caritas Internationalis released the following statement on World Food, Oct. 16, urging the global community to address “food injustice” stemming from a disregard for those most overlooked in society.
The following article was published in the November-December 2022 issue of NewsNotes.
The only way to fight the current severe food crisis is to address the “food injustice” that stems from a lack of concern for the poorest and the most vulnerable and care for our common home. On World Food Day 2022, which occurs on 16 October, Caritas Internationalis calls national governments, international institutions, and the global community to support local and small-scale agriculture as a long-term and sustainable solution against food insecurity.
World food production is affected by three major factors: climate emergency, the impact of COVID-19, and conflicts. “This World Food day 2022 is marked by the war in Ukraine, which has contributed to the upheaval in global food and energy markets, with soaring food and fuel prices will further put millions at risk of hunger across the world,” says Aloysius John, secretary general of Caritas Internationalis.
Alongside hunger hotspots like Afghanistan, Syria, and Yemen, the Sahel and the Horn of Africa regions are among the most affected, with 21 million of people in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia suffering high levels of acute food insecurity and malnutrition. This is also the result of the dependence on imported foods and chemical input industrial agriculture and of the limited involvement of farmers in the food supply chain.
“It is a paradox that, in our opulent globalized world, four out of ten people cannot afford healthy food. The current severe food crisis cannot be solely addressed by industrial agriculture. We need to move away from a focus on efficiency and profit maximization in the food system and instead focus on sustaining local food systems, which through diversified seeds, have the capacity to improve food and nutrition security” says John.
All over the world, Caritas organizations implement programs to build community resilience, adopt locally driven innovation based on indigenous knowledge and support small-scale farmers. In India and Niger for example, local communities working with Caritas are maximizing the use of locally available resources, such as agricultural fertilizers and botanical pesticides, in order to improve soil nutrients and contribute to climate change mitigation. Such programs include farming techniques and systems based on agroecology, which integrates the needs of agricultural production with the principle of environmental preservation.
Caritas Internationalis calls the international community and decision makers, to ensure greater efforts to support new forms of small-scale agriculture, create social food cooperatives, and enable small-scale farmers to cultivate their land. This means a change in agricultural development projects, with a focus on watershed management and access to sustainable agricultural materials.
States and the global community should also avoid focusing on achieving short-term food security and instead focus on long-term home-grown innovations that build sustainable local food systems rooted in local realities, inclusive and resilient to shocks around the world.
“If we do not take measures now, an increasing percentage of the world’s population is destined to suffer from hunger. Food injustice needs to be immediately addressed at the highest level. Food production must be devoid of political and vested interest and seen as a common good for humanity,” concludes John.
Faith in action: Maryknoll lay missioner Peg Vamosy in El Salvador works with a local parish-based agricultural program to improve food security through crop diversification and sustainable, climate-resilient organic production. Read about Peg’s programs in Maryknoll Magazine https://bit.ly/PegVamosyNews. Watch a recording of a webinar with Peg at https://bit.ly/PegVamosy.
Photo of Peg Vamosy courtesy of Maryknoll Magazine