Since the UN Food Agriculture Organization (FAO) started to celebrate this day to commemorate the founding of the Organization in 1945, the world population has more than tripled. According to the United Nations Population Fund, the world population has grown from 2,3 billion in 1945 to nearly 7,5 billion in 2017. As to urbanization, while in 1945 less than 30 per cent of the world’s population lived in cities, today more than 55 per cent reside in urban areas. This impressive imbalance between population growth and reduction of farming land has not materialized in the kind of scarcity predicted in 1798 by the famous British scholar Thomas Malthus in his work “An Essay on the Principle of Population”.
Scientific discoveries followed by technological improvements such as new and more effective pesticides as well as genetic manipulation of plants and animals have made up for this dichotomy, for never in humankind history has more food been produced as today. The irony of it all is that despite this increase in food production, according to the FAO, global hunger is rising this year for the first time over a decade, affecting 815 million people or 11 per cent of the global population. The FAO considers that this increase is largely due to the proliferation of violent conflicts and climate-related shocks which are also major drivers of distress migration.
It is because of this unfortunate finding, that this year’s motto for the World Food Day is “Change the future of migration – Invest in food security and rural development”.
The event, which was held in Rome, Italy where the headquarters of the FAO are located had different prominent speakers such as Pope Francis. The Pope called for governments around the world to collaborate in making migration a safer and voluntary choice. He argued that assuring food security for all requires tackling climate change and ending conflicts. On a further note, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said: “More and more people migrate because they do not have the option to remain in their homes and lands”.
In Colombia, more than 60 years of armed conflict have left 7,4 million internally displaced persons (IDP’s), most of them living in the three biggest cities of the country, Bogota, Medellin and Cali. According to the UNHCR this fact puts Colombia in the second place of the list of countries with the highest amounts of IDP’s, only preceded by Siria.
For countries like Colombia to overcome the trauma of such a history, initiatives that invest in food security and rural development are pivotal to the success of any peace and reconciliation process. The work of Farmfolio in the region of Monteria, Cordoba on the northern part of Colombia is the perfect example of such an initiative. Ganaderia Pietrasanta’s innovative concept of growing organic coconut in a traditionally cattle raising region has shown local farmers that with hard work and innovation, they don’t have to migrate to cities to have a good and worthy life.