Something to be optimistic about this World Food Day

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Today, October 16th, marks the internationally-recognized World Food Day. Around the world, events and media coverage draw awareness to the fact that for over 870 million people, hunger is still a defining daily issue. This figure, though still severe, has fallen one third in the past two decades. Progress is certainly being made, though maybe more varied across regions than would be hoped. Earlier this week, Concern Worldwide and partners IFPRI and Welthungerhilfe released the 8th annual Global Hunger Index (GHI), which shows that more than 23 countries have made significant progress to curb hunger and malnutrition since 1990, reducing their GHI scores by more than 50%; these include Bangladesh, Cambodia, Ethiopia and Thailand among others. Still, the populations of over 19 other countries out of the 120 listed on the GHI remain in an ‘alarming’ or ‘extremely alarming’ state of hunger, in large part located in South Asia and Africa south of the Sahara. The theme of this year’s World Food Day ‘healthy people and healthy food systems’ points to a renewed focus on the need to see changes across the entire system in order to sustain improvements in food security. Of these 19 countries on the lower end of the list, Plantwise is currently working in 16, finding partners and opening plant clinics to support one key factor of this change, the plant health system. This World Food Day, CABI and Plantwise have pitched in to raise awareness in the Independent’s World Food Day special report here. The message: many of the answers are available today to support continued gains against hunger, while safeguarding health of the environment and resources for the next generation. If we can make these answers more accessible in the communities where they’re needed most, then next World Food Day we will see the healthy numbers continue to grow, and global hunger and malnutrition come closer to disappearing.

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