Food prices are back in the news this week. A surge in corn prices sparked new concerns that the world could be headed toward another food price crisis. Unfortunately, the discussion once more ignores sustained attention to long-term solutions to poverty and hunger.
You may remember that the food price crisis of 2007-08 led to dozens of protests and concerns about unrest around the world. Protests most recently made headlines in Mozambique, where last month more than a dozen people died and hundreds were injured. Recent humanitarian crises in Haiti and Pakistan have also underscored the serious challenge of malnutrition.
Many experts expect food prices to remain volatile in the coming years. If we truly want to create stability and prosperity that can offset future shocks, the world must get serious about investing in the poorest and most vulnerable communities.
Here's a new video from colleagues in Mozambique that proposes a path to addressing the root causes of widespread hunger there:
Hunger remains a widespread and deadly reality for poor children and families around the world. Subsidies meant to calm anger over rising prices won't reduce hunger and poverty. World leaders promised to invest $22 billion dollars in global food security at last year's G-8 and G-20 meetings in L'Aquila, Italy and Pittsburgh. It's critical they follow through.
Saturday is World Food Day, giving everybody a special opportunity to consider the plight of the hungry and malnourished worldwide. Here's a quiz you can take and share with friends that shares some surprising facts about food availability, hunger and the importance of early childhood nutrition.
I'm not giving away the answers by telling you that an estimated 925 million people are considered hungry, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. Hundreds of millions of the hungry are children, and malnutrition is the underlying cause of at least 2.5 million preventable child deaths each year.
Food price protests have at times shined a spotlight on the plight of the urban poor, which is real and must be addressed. But the world must also address the plight of rural poor, even if it's less likely to make headlines.
The majority of the world's poor depend on agriculture for their livelihood. If we want to reduce global hunger, we mush invest in these poor farmers. Let's ensure they have better access to markets, improved and natural-resource-sound farming techniques, and information and skills to improve child nutrition and health.
Why? Because, over the long term, these actions will lower food costs, raise incomes for the poorest, increase food production and, most importantly, allow more children to eat a full and adequate diet year round.
Charles MacCormack is President and CEO of Save the Children, the leading, independent organization that creates lasting change for children in need in the United States and around the world.
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