Food security – an unavoidable solution

 

 

BACK IN JUNE 2009 WE DISCUSSED FOOD SECURITY

by Prof. Dr. Willem VAN COTTHEM (Ghent University – Belgium)

https://containergardening.wordpress.com/2009/06/16/food-security-%E2%80%93-an-unavoidable-solution-w-van-cotthem/

Food security – an unavoidable solution

I was reading with great interest the content of the former postings on my blog https://desertification.wordpress.com

FOOD SECURITY MAJOR CHALLENGE FOR WORLD’S POOREST, BAN TELLS US STUDENTS

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told a gathering at an American university that the daily reality for one third of the world’s population who live on less than $2 a day include decisions such as which of their children gets to eat.

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Mr. Ban noted that one billion people around the world, known as the “bottom billion,” live on less than $1 a day and two billion live on less than $2 a day, and many if not most are children suffering from hunger and malnutrition.

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Some families ended up eating one meal a day instead of two, explained Mr. Ban, with some family members going without food.  “Sometimes parents have to choose among their children as to who gets to eat, and who doesn’t.

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He pointed out that families who spend more on food have less for health and education, beginning a social spiral which the whole society goes down.

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The challenge of food security must be addressed immediately, said Mr. Ban. “We need to strengthen agricultural infrastructure, increase productivity and do away with unfair terms of trade.”

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So far, so good for some parts of Mr. BAN’s speech at St. Louis University in Missouri last Friday.

Today, I can’t avoid dreaming, eyes wide open, of a world within which every family has its own allotment, its own kitchen garden (and not only the Queen at Buckingham Palace !).

Let’s dream  together, eyes still wide open : all the international organisations, nowadays carrying responsibilities for food programmes (WFP, FAO, UNICEF for the children’s health and education,  the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, etc.), working together to ban malnutrition, hunger, famine, starvation from this world, could start up a worldwide programme to construct family gardens or kitchen gardensand school gardensfor one third of the world’s population who live on less than $2 a day include decisions such as which of their children gets to eat”.  They would certainly find the necessary donors for such a global programme, because the survival of our whole human society is at stake.

Together with Mr. BAN I notice that “one billion people around the world, known as the “bottom billion,” live on less than $1 a day and two billion live on less than $2 a day, and many if not most are children suffering from hunger and malnutrition“.  So, why don’t we construct school gardens for these kids, not to make them richer, but to learn them  how to produce vegetables in the school yard for at least one decent meal with fresh food, vitamins and minerals per day ?

If it is true “that families who spend more on food have less for health and education, beginning a social spiral which the whole society goes down“, why don’t we stop that sliding down of the whole society simply by teaching the world poorest people how to grow their own vegetables and offer them their own small kitchen garden.

Don’t give them a fish, but teach them how to fish” or in this case “Don’t send them food, but teach them how to grow it“, for even in the most difficult situations of poverty, drought and desertification, we have already the most appropriate ways of soil conditioning, water harvesting and food crop production. Methods and techniques are well known; they have shown their cost-effectiveness.

If Queen Elizabeth felt the need to have an organic vegetable patch at Buckingham Palace of about 10 yards by eight yards in size, why do the poorest families of this world don’t get a similar patch for their own welfare , close to their humble home? (see my posting athttps://containergardening.wordpress.com).

Impossible, you say ?  Just have a look at my former postings about the family gardens in the refugee camps in S.W. Algeria on this blog (a former UNICEF-project !).

Have a look at the picture below and judge for yourself : if such a kitchen garden is possible in the Sahara desert, why not everywhere else. Even a much smaller one would do, don’t you think ?

2006-05 Kitchen garden in Aussert camp (S.W. Algeria)
2006-05 Children in a kitchen garden in the Sahara desert, close to the hospital near Aussert refugee camp (S.W. Algeria)

I strongly believe that family (kitchen) gardens and school gardens are an unavoidable solution for the hunger and health problems of this world.

It suffices to believe in it to find ways and means for the realization of such a programme, full of beauty and supreme human feelings.  Isn’t that one of the the main goals of the United Nations and of many of the aid organizations ?  It’s not a dream anymore, for reality knocks at our doors.  Why would we keep our doors locked for such an idea, such a fantastic solution (that’s what the people, having already a small kitchen garden, told us) ?

So, who takes the lead ?  The winner takes all the honours !

Just wait and see ?  No, don’t wait anymore, let’s do it together, tomorrow or the day after.

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Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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