Even before the pandemic surfaced nearly a year ago, an estimated 690 million people around the world were undernourished, 144 million or 21 per cent of children under five-years-old were stunted, and about 57 per cent of people in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia could not afford a healthy diet. The COVID-19 pandemic may add between 83 and 132 million people to the total number of undernourished in the world this year alone, depending on the scale of the economic slowdown, according to preliminary assessments.
Yet we do produce enough food for the world’s 7.8 billion people. It’s our food systems that are broken. Hunger is rising even as the world wastes and loses more than one billion tonnes of food every year.
Our food choices matter not just for health and social justice, but also for their impact on the climate and bio-diversity. The current food system responsible for around 21 to 37 per cent of total greenhouse gas emissions.
Africa is a huge net importer of food but 75 per cent of crops grown in sub-Saharan Africa are produced by smallholder farms, with family farms estimated to number over 100 million. Women do the bulk of weeding work while three-quarters of children aged 5 to 14 are forced to leave school and do farm labour at peak times.