Today, the world commemorates World Food Day in remembrance of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations in 1945, an organization that deals with global food and agricultural issues.
World Food Day provides an occasion to highlight the plight of billions of people who do not have regular access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food. There are 870 million undernourished people in the world, most of them live in rural areas where their main source of income is agriculture. Global warming and the biofuel boom are now threatening to push the number of the hungry even higher.
Sierra Leone is classified as a Low-Income Food Deficit Country (LIFDC). More than 60 percent of Sierra Leoneans live on less than $2 PPP per day. Equally alarming is our nutrition situation. Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) currently stands at 5.1% and Moderate Acute Malnutrition (MAM) at 4.0% among children. Stunting rates remain high (>30%) indicating a persistent serious chronic malnutrition according to WHO classifications.
The country’s main farming system is subsistence farming, perpetuated by a vicious circle of low productivity of resources, underemployment, low income, low savings, low investment in farms and low yields. These problems create mass rural-to-urban migration as most farmers and youth flee the rural areas to seek non-farming income generating alternatives in the urban areas. The majority of our rural communities experience food shortages for several months in a year. And most embarrassing of all is, we are a net importer of our own staple food, rice.
Dr. Richard Konteh commends the many efforts that have been made both past and present. He believes Sierra Leone can do better! He believes Sierra Leoneans can create and live in a country where everyone will have affordable, healthy diets and decent livelihoods, while preserving natural resources and biodiversity and tackling climate change challenges.
Dr. Richard Konteh’s leadership will work with the private sector and civil societies to make sure that Sierra Leone’s food systems grow a variety of food to nourish the growing population and sustain environment together. He will invest in social protection policies and programmes that ensure safe conditions and decent incomes for smallholder farmers and food chain workers and adopt measures that avoid economic disruptions.
Every Sierra Leonean all have a role to play, to grow, nourish and sustain the nation’s food system. Together, let’s take actions for a great Future!
Join Dr. Richard Konteh and D-Unifier team in celebrating World Food Day and the work of the FAO today and every day!