Montevideo, May 29 (EFE).- The number of people suffering from hunger in the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) region has risen 30 percent since 2019 due to factors such as the Covid-19 pandemic, the climate crisis and the war in Ukraine, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, a specialized United Nations agency.
“There are more than 56 million people in a situation of hunger” in the region, up from 43 million in 2019,” the FAO’s assistant director-general and regional representative for Latin America and the Caribbean, Mario Lubetkin, said in an interview with Efe.
He said the climate crisis is weighing more heavily all the time, adding that the LAC region and Europe are hit at times by a dramatic combination of drought and flooding and calling for greater protection for agricultural producers.
“The rise in prices is a consequence of the complete destruction of plantations, but also the tremendous impact on small producers in family agriculture. So there’s a double impact,” Lubetkin said.
He therefore called for “preventing the preventable and mitigating the mitigable” to shield small producers and family agriculture from a potentially devastating scenario, saying that governments and international institutions “must be prepared to provide economic assistance.”
“First of all, by confronting the current situation as best they can; secondly, generating adequate funds to absorb the impact on the operator; and thirdly, the actors, in this case governments and the public and private sector, must partially absorb the impact of the prices that directly (affect) the end consumer,” Lubetkin said.
In that regard, the FAO’s representative for Latin America and the Caribbean said that Rome-based institution is making “a very big effort in family agriculture,” which he says represents 80 percent of agricultural holdings and helps to “guarantee quality production.”
In fact, the United Nations Decade of Family Farming began in 2019 with the goal of mobilizing concrete, coordinated actions to overcome the challenges those farmers face and thereby contribute to the eradication of hunger and the promotion of food security and sustainable development, particularly in rural areas.
One initiative the FAO has in the works is to deliver the food produced on family farms to school cafeterias and provide “guaranteed lunches” that foster improved academic performance.
That organization also is promoting innovation and digitalization processes that are aimed at enhancing food security and agricultural development.
The FAO’s push to transform the sector is seen in projects such as the “1,000 Digital Village Initiative,” which provides support and assistance to countries to improve their use of digital tools in agri-food systems and rural territories.
“I feel today that there’s a scenario of greater awareness and responsibility on the part of authorities, because the reality of food system transformation is now a focal point of governments and public opinion like never before in history,” Lubetkin said. EFE