Eradicate hunger by 2025 – and don’t confuse this goal with future food provisioning

Countries can eradicate hunger if they want to, if they don’t confuse eradicating hunger with the need to secure adequate food supplies in the medium to long term. That’s the clear message from Andrew MacMillan, a former long time member of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, in a new book, How to end hunger in times of crisis, written with Ignacio Trueba –

Andrew says eradicating hunger is doable and a clear target should be set as soon as possible, at the latest by 2025. Moreover, if it is done right – with the focus on eradicating hunger in ways that enable small farmers to be more productive and better off – it will also feed into the longer-term goals of ensuring good food for all.

Amongst the many reasons given for not eradicating hunger, say the authors in their book,

“… is the common view that ending hunger is impossible because the world simply cannot produce enough food to do it. The truth is that, at least for now, there is ample food for everyone to eat adequately. Annual food waste at consumer level in industrialised countries (222 million tons) is almost as high as total net food production in Africa (230 million tons). To close the gap between what 1 billion hungry people are eating now and what they need to consume to climb above the hunger threshold would require the equivalent of only 25 to 30 millions tons of grains now being produced. Even if the amount needed was to be doubled, even tripled, and its food content diversified, it would still be insignificant in global terms. It is not a big deal!” p20.

I interviewed Andrew when he was in London last month to speak to a group in the UK parliament – listen here.

You can also download a copy of his remarks to the Parliamentarians and his lecture at the University of Reading on June 11th on ‘The Future of Agriculture through a Hunger Eradication Lens’

His thinking contains some timely points given the plans for a hunger summit on August 12th during the London 2012 Olympics.

About Geoff Tansey

I curate the Food Systems Academy, a free, on-line, open education resource to transform our food systems. I was also a member of the Food Ethics Council from 2000-2021 and chaired the independent Fabian Commission on Food and Poverty, which reported in 2015.
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