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The Role of Bread and Pasta in Famine Relief

Today, 55% of world population live in urban areas of Africa and South East Asia where hunger and poverty are intensified. By the year 2020 population rate of those regions are expected to increase to 68%. In addition to this, 80% of food are consumed in urban areas. As rapid urbanization continues, policies and actions for healthy food access for everyone in cities become more important.

acliklamucadele_bbm31Pasta, flour and rice are the basic staples when aiding countries for famine relief. Pasta industrialist from all over the world aided 2 million portions of pasta to aid organizations concentrated on famine relief in the scope of the “Power of the Pasta” campaign launched by International Pasta Organization (IPO) on the occasion of World Pasta Day marked on 25 October. Turkish pasta industrialist contributed to this aid campaign with 90 thousand kilograms of pasta that are sent to food banks and aid associations. Most of the aid is transferred to African countries. In order to tackle the problem of food inadequacy in Africa, a healthy balance should be ensured between the high growth in population and food supply.

It is a misery to witness that the continent Africa with rich and fertile soils can not feed its population. Africa has more than 50% of world’s farmland, yet it imports more than half of the food it consumes. The main food item being imported is the grain. Wheat, rice and corn are the first three most imported types of grains. Energy rich grains constitute 30% of food consumed in Africa. African countries pay a total of 10 billion dollars every year for grain imports.

As famine is on global agenda for being a problem; large populations continue to move to metropolitan areas because of food insecurity, hunger and climate change. “Food and Cities” research report has been published recently which was conducted by Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition (BCFN), Municipality of Milan and Milan Urban Food Policy Pact (MUFPP) in order to analyze the role of cities for achieving Sustainable Development Goals. “Food and Cities” research was conducted in 7 metropolitan cities to evaluate efforts for ensuring sustainability, preventing food waste and famine.

According to the report, more than 50 percent of the world population live in urban areas. Experts state that this ratio will hit 80 percent by 2050 because of famine, climate change and food insecurity. This trend will cause an increase in food demand and cities will face a scenario which current food systems would not cope with. According to estimates, the number of people suffering from hunger has increased by 4.6 percent in the last 12 months. There are 821 million people in the world that are below starvation line. Experts stress that sustainable food production and healthy nutrition habits play important role in famine relief.

In the scope of “Food and Cities” research, 7 big cities from different parts of the world (New York, Rio de Janeiro, Milano, Ouagadougou, Tel Aviv, Seul, and Sydney) were put under the scope as case studies in terms of sustainable development, measures against food waste. The study proved that sustainability efforts might contribute significantly in order to reach United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

Sustainability efforts started in big cities are evaluated in the report. According to this, 8.5 percent of Sydney population do not have the necessary income to buy adequate amount of food. To address this problem, University of Sidney and University of New South Wales Canberra launched a project called FoodLab Sydney in cooperation with the private sector. The project supports the companies producing food based on sustainable systems and aims to ensure food access for people from all aspects of the society.

Another project cited in the report was the Eco School launched in Seoul, the capital of South Korea. The aim was facilitating access to healthy food four youngsters. The project launched in 2011 and has touched 705 thousand students since then. The investment exceeded 2.5 billion dollars.

New York’s first project in the scope of sustainable development goals, concentrated on restaurants. Using fat with trans acid by restaurants and food retailers was prohibited in the city. Writing calorie values for all meals in menus became obligatory. In Milan, various regulations were put into effect to prevent food waste. People who give food to charities rather than wasting could enjoy 20% tax reduction. This project save 840 tons of food in 6 months. In Rio de Janeiro and Ouagadougou, investment in agriculture and support to farmers are main elements in the scope of sustainable development goals.

The President of UN General Assembly María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés and UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Director General José Graziano da Silva co-hosted an event called “From Global Issues to Local Priorities” in UN Headquarters in New York.

“There is an urgent need for a healthy and nutritious food system protecting natural resources and bio-diversity.” said FAO Director General José Graziano da Silva at the meeting. “Cities face global problems while urbanization is picking up speed. We need to cooperate with local authorities in order to find multilateral solutions. We need contribution from local governments to eradicate hunger and improve food systems. Commitments of global leaders are not enough to put Sustainable Development Agenda into effect”, he added.

FAO Director General, called on world’s mayors to make ‘global commitments local realities’ and stressed the importance of realizing 11th Sustainable Development Goal: Sustainable Cities and Communities. Focusing on SDG 2, which calls for the eradication of hunger and all forms of malnutrition, as well as the development of sustainable agriculture, he pointed out that the number of people suffering from both hunger and obesity has increased over the last three years, especially in urban areas where “people are more likely to eat cheaper processed food high in trans fats, sugar and salt.”

According to da Silv, city-dwellers can no longer be considered food consumers and rural communities food producers. “Sustainable development calls for the strengthening of rural-urban linkages based on a territorial approach,” he said, pushing for “a rural-urban continuum.” By the year 2050, 68% of the world population is expected to live in urban areas.

President of the United Nations General Assembly María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés:
“It is encouraging to see examples where Mayors have adopted the 2030 Agenda as part of their development plans and urban planning. The New Urban Agenda, which sets a long-term roadmap to achieve a transforming, sustainable and inclusive urban development, as “another great achievement for multilateralism. The relationship between climate change, food security and urban action is central to deliver on the 2030 Agenda and this is what encourages this space for dialogue and exchange. A better, more sustainable and inclusive future for all is possible if we optimize the relationships and the coordination between National Governments and local Governments which can and must be the agents for the transformations that we need.”

Buket Yıldırım Karagüç, Barilla Customer Services and Demand Planning Director at Turkey:
As world resources are consumed away rapidly, most vital issues of humanity like access to food, preventing food waste and food banks gain more and more importance. The population increases rapidly and food production, access to food and climate change issues come to the front. There are 821 million people in the world that are below starvation line. Experts warn that consumption model should be changed, sustainable food production and healthy nutrition habits should be urgently adopted. Otherwise, by the year 2050, food need of the total population would not be met even if there were three earths to give us its sources.

One third of food produced in the world are wasted before coming to the table. It is vital for health of people as well as our planet to take concrete measures, particularly about food, in order to leave a sustainable world for next generations.

Barilla, spares no effort about sustainability in Turkey and in the world via a business model called “Good for you,Good for the Planet, Good for the Society.” We have a responsibility to leave a better world for next generations. If we can not do this we have to maintain the current situation at least. Thus, we need to minimize our footprint in the universe. Otherwise, this planet will not suffice us tomorrow. Minimizing food waste is one of the most important issues. We cooperate with Basic Needs Association (Temel İhtiyaç Derneği – TİDER) for food banks in Turkey. We also have similar projects in Italy, France and the US.

Hunger and obesity are on the agenda of many experts and governments. We have a coin at hand. One side of the coin, there is a huge population suffering from hunger, suffering from undernutrition. 1 in every 9 people in the world, face this problem. On the other side of the coin, we see that 1 in every 7 people face obesity or malnutrition ad suffer from some health issues stemming from this problem. On the other hand, one third of food are wasted which can be sent to people in need. We must change this inequality. Food banks may be important initiative to change it. Barilla Gıda cooperates with TİDER in food bank initiatives in Turkey.

Sustainability is a significant concept for Barilla. Feeding the ever-growing world population without giving harm to our planet is one of the biggest challenges today. We think that sustainability starts from field and ends with the fork. We produce pasta and its raw material is wheat. We launched important projects with farmers in many parts of the world as well as in Turkey and our efforts are going on. We trained many Turkish farmers about sustainable agriculture and gave information about sustainable business models. Barilla has a human and environment friendly business model. In the scope of this model, we try to increase sustainable wheat supply and we re-formulate our products to improve nutritional habits. We tried to popularize Mediterranean nutritional habits. We have also made significant improvements in production processes in the last 7 years. We decreased water consumption by 23% and greenhouse gas emissions by 29%.

I believe that problems about food and nutrition from logistics to sales and consumption should be analyzed in the best way and common solutions should be developed with participation of all stakeholders. Our country is facing significant problems especially in the area of food waste. Food Sustainability Index 2018 which was published by Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition (BCFN) in cooperation with The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) clearly represents this phenomenon. Turkey is one of the worst performing countries against food waste because of losses during transporting or at sales point. Inadequate legal regulations also play a role. We have to detect problems and then develop solutions with all stakeholders including government. Barilla will continue to contribute and support all efforts against food waste.

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