World Food Day 2020: On 75th anniversary, FAO stresses need for access to nutritious food for all amid COVID-19 crisis

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Every year on 16 October, World Food Day is celebrated in honour of the foundation date of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations in 1945.

World Food Day 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of FAO, at a time when the world is dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak response. This year the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the UN's World Food Programme to recognise the right of all people to food.

Awarding the 2020 #NobelPeacePrize to @WFP recognizes the right of all people to food, and our common quest to achieve #ZeroHunger.

The @UN will continue working for a future where everyone, everywhere, has access to the nutrition they need, on #WorldFoodDay, and every day.

— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) October 16, 2020

The FAO recognises every citizen’s right to food, proposes a change in the food systems across the world and motivates people to adopt changes to ensure the world becomes free from hunger. World Food Day is also observed to send a message to governments, NGOs, businesses, cities and individuals to take action against the increase in people who do not have access to food and the impact of malnutrition on the global economy.

One of the most important concerns is that although we produce more food than we need, the number of hungry people is on a rise, which points to a flaw in the current food system, the FAO noted.

FAO says that future food systems need to provide affordable and healthy diets for all as well as decent livelihoods for food system workers. The world body added that this needs to be done while preserving natural resources and biodiversity and tackling challenges like climate change.

The coronavirus pandemic has deeply affected the food and agriculture arena, prompting the theme this year for World Food Day to be 'grow, nourish, sustain. Together'. FAO urged everyone to close the gap between the people who take food for granted and those who go without it.

FAO highlights the need of “preserving access to safe and nutritious food” as an immediate response to the pandemic, especially for the marginal communities who have suffered wide economic ramifications. The body calls to cheer the “food heroes” on this date, who are all the farmers and agriculture workers who have made sure food continues to reach people even in the unprecedented times.

Qu Dongyu, the Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization, said the COVID-19 pandemic has “not only taken a toll on human lives and health, it also threatens the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people across the world”.

Calling it the biggest challenge since the end of World War II, Qu says the pandemic showed the world how important it was to keep the food supply chain running. "While 700 million people were undernourished before COVID-19, now economic disturbance may add about 130 million to the number," he said. However, one major difference between the scenario in 1945 and 2020 is that now production of food is adequate, but issues like climate change and conflict have hampered the visionary distribution of food and it will take contribution from all the sectors of the society to fight world hunger.

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