This Day (Lagos)

3 January 2013

Africa: Experts Proffer Tips On Food System for 2013

Experts on food matters have proffered vital tips to enhance the food system in 2013, ranging from growing the cities to engaging youths and preventing waste across the globe.

In a detailed release, the Co-Founder, Food Tank, Danielle Nierenberg, said a broader collection of farmers, policy-makers, and eaters need new, bigger resolutions for fixing the food system-real changes with long-term impacts in fields, boardrooms, and on plates all over the world.

"As we start 2013, many people will be thinking about plans and promises to improve their diets and health. These are resolutions that the world can't afford to break with nearly one billion still hungry and more than one billion suffering from the effects of being overweight and obese. We have the tools-let's use them in 2013", she added.

The organisation proffered 13 resolutions to change the food system in 2013. These include: growing the cities: Food production doesn't only happen in fields or factories. Nearly one billion people worldwide produce food in cities. In Kibera, the largest slum in Africa, farmers are growing seeds of indigenous vegetables and selling them to rural farmers.

Food Tank also sought the creation of better access, where mobile grocery stores give low-income consumers opportunities to make healthy food choices, and instead of chips and soda, they provide customers with affordable organic produce, not typically available in their communities.

Another resolution is that of eaters demanding healthier food, with consumers urged to try eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole foods without preservatives and other additives, and cooking more, where young people, who lack basic cooking skills are taught how to cook healthy, nutritious foods in schools.

Creating conviviality was also put forward where sharing a meal with family and friends can foster community and conversation, and recent studies suggest that children who eat meals with their families are typically happier and more stable than those who do not.

Another resolution called for focus on vegetables, where the organisation noted that nearly two billion people suffer from micronutrient deficiencies worldwide, leading to poor development. The World Vegetable Centre, however, is helping farmers grow high-value, nutrient rich vegetables in Africa and Asia, improving health and increasing incomes.

Preventing waste as a resolution noted that roughly one-third of all food is wasted - in fields, during transport, in storage, and in homes. But there are easy, inexpensive ways to prevent waste. Initiatives like Love Food, Hate Waste offer consumers tips about portion control and recipes for leftovers, while farmers in Bolivia are using solar-powered driers to preserve foods.

Food Tank also called for engaging of youth, where making farming both intellectually and economically stimulating will help make the food system an attractive career option for youth. "Across sub-Saharan Africa, cell phones and the internet are connecting farmers to information about weather and markets; in the US, Food Corps is teaching students how to grow and cook food, preparing them for a lifetime of healthy eating", it noted.

Protecting workers was also suggested as a resolution, and the Chicago, Illinois, USA-based organisation noted that farm and food workers across the world are fighting for better pay and working conditions. In Zimbabwe, the General Agricultural and Plantation Workers Union of Zimbabwe (GAPWUZ), protects labourers from abuse.

It called for the acknowledgment of the importance of farmers. "Farmers aren't just farmers; they're business-women and men, stewards of the land, and educators, sharing knowledge in their communities. Slow Food International works with farmers all over the world, helping recognise their importance to preserve biodiversity and culture.

"Recognising the role of governments in which case nations must implement policies that give everyone access to safe, affordable, healthy food. In Ghana and Brazil, government action, including national school feeding programmes and increased support for sustainable agricultural production, greatly reduced the number of hungry people", Food Tank added.

It also canvassed changing of the Metrics: "Governments, NGOs, and funders have focused on increasing production and improving yields, rather than improving nutrition and protecting the environment. Changing the metrics, and focusing more on quality, will improve public and environmental health, and livelihoods."

To the organisation, fixing the broken food system would also help greatly in 2013. "Agriculture can be the solution to some of the world's most pressing challenges - including unemployment, obesity, and climate change. These innovations simply need more research, more investment, and ultimately more funding. We can do it---together!

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