Our food system is broken. It might not look like that. Our supermarket shelves might be weighed down with produce from all across the planet but nevertheless the system is not working.
There is more than enough food produced in the world to feed everyone yet one in seven people on the planet already go hungry. There is now no option but to grow and develop a food system that’s fit for purpose and delivers for all of us around the world. Instead of a system which ensures everyone gets fed, vast amounts of food are wasted, or turned into biofuels to be burnt in petrol tanks.
Price rises already this year, the second price spike in just three years, have pushed 44 million more people into poverty. Meanwhile it is getting ever harder to expand food production. Yields are barely growing, the amount of arable land per head has halved since 1960 and vital water resources are drying up across the planet.
At the same time climate change is already having devastating effects on the ability of people to grow food. Oxfam estimates that by 2030 the price of key foods will have almost doubled by 2030. And with another 2 billion on the planet by 2050 it is likely we will have to produce as much as 70% more food by then just to stand still. So we must deliver food for more people, using less carbon and other finite natural resources and ensure that every man, woman and child has enough to eat. Progress can be made. Brazil, for example, has rolled back hunger dramatically. And other countries, like Vietnam have proven it can be done going from being a net importer of rice to being one of the world’s largest producers. But it means that world leaders must deliver a global climate change deal that is fair to everyone and live up to their own climate responsibilities – enacting a climate change act here will be a crucial step to see Northern Ireland meeting the climate change challenge. It means ensuring the food system works for everyone by ending destructive support for biofuels, regulating food speculation, halting massive land-grabbing and investing in small farmers. Fixing the global food system won’t be easy. It will require people, progressive companies and governments to re-make a sustainable food system which delivers for all. Oxfam has launched GROW, a new campaign to ensure everyone has enough to eat, always. Find out more at www.oxfamireland.org/grow
Chief Executive Oxfam Ireland