Plant health key to reducing world hunger

By Katie Tomlinson

On the 16th October, World Food Day events will take place around the globe to draw attention to the growing problem of world hunger and malnutrition.

34Nairobi-Market (1)

Shockingly, the FAO has reported that 10% of the global population experienced severe food insecurity in 2017 and that world hunger has increased for the third consecutive year. Key drivers in this trend have been recent climate variations and extreme weather events and increasing impacts of pests and diseases.

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Something to be optimistic about this World Food Day


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.

CABI at the World Food Prize

Hanoi food market
© David Brewer (CC BY-SA license, via Flickr)

Today, the 16th October, is World Food Day. In today’s context of rising food insecurity, the timing could not be more fitting. This week global agricultural leaders will gather in Des Moines, Iowa for the World Food Prize & The Borlaug Dialogue. The World Food Prize will be awarded on Thursday 18th October to Dr. Daniel Hillel, whose work developing micro-irrigation techniques has helped feed millions around the world. Ban-Ki Moon, the UN Secretary General,will be speaking at the award ceremony. Continue reading