World Food Day 2013

FOA describes Cuba’s work as very positive

Lisandra Fariñas Acosta & Maylin Guerrero Ocaña (Granma International)

More than 800 million people go hungry every day, while nutritional deficiencies threaten the health of another 2 billion. At the other extreme however, 1.5 billion people suffer from obesity.

The message is clear: the global food market is not fulfilling the needs of the poor, and having access to this market doesn’t necessarily translate intoaccess to better nutrition and health. This is why governments must eradicate hunger and malnutrition by implementing public policies designed to ensure food security and adequate nutrition for all citizens.

In the midst of this situation, a country like Cuba stands out, with food security measures described as “very positive” by Theodor Friedrich, representative of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, during the monthly panel discussion Letra con Vida, organized by theDulce María Loynaz Cultural Center in the capital, and this time dedicated to World Food Day.

Friedrich –an Agricultural Sciences Ph.D. – commented on the country’sachievements in indicators such as eradication of hunger – being one of the few countries to have accomplished this – and fulfilment of the Millennium Development Goals. However, he stressed “there are still challenges to overcome, above all the issue of food sustainability through personal effort, rather than relying on imports”.

“Encouraging national production would guarantee greater food sovereignty and security for the country, which has sufficient land to feed its population in a healthy, diversified and sustainable way”, the FAO representative noted.

But the question of food goes far beyond what is produced in the countryside.
In order to provide quality products to consumers, it is important that every link in the supply chain works correctly; from storage and transportation to the processing and marketing of food.

Friedrich commented on the importance of producing good quality food in order to improve nutritional value to preserve human health.

Diversified production at the local level gives the population greater access to food. Positive examples of this come in the form of the boom in urban and suburban agriculture in the region and other collaborative projects which contribute to sustainable food production at the local level. Grisel Tejeda González, from the Tropical Agriculture Basic Research Institute, noted thatevidence of these encouraging advances can be seen through the work of the Cuban Agricultural Modernization Support Program(PALMA), where the institution’s framework plays a key role.

The FOA official also stressed the need for greater professional training for rural producers, providing information about the effects of pesticides on crops and keeping them up to date with the latest national and international agricultural expertise and advances.

Dr. Theodor Friedrich highlighted the county’s academic and technological potential, mentioning that both aspects should be more strongly linked to production in order to achieve the food sovereignty and security which the country needs.