NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Oct. 16, 2012) Each year, Oct. 16, marks the observance of United Nations World Food Day across the globe. Today, nearly 870 million people around the world are chronically undernourished, or one in eight individuals worldwide, according to a new report published by the United Nations.
World Food Day brings attention to the plight of the world's hungry and undernourished and provides an opportunity for a deeper understanding of the complex solutions. This year’s theme is investing in agriculture for food security.
According to the UN report The State of Food Insecurity in the World, agricultural growth is particularly effective in reducing hunger and malnutrition. Most of the extreme poor depend on agriculture and related activities for a significant part of their livelihoods. Agricultural growth involving smallholders, especially women, will be most effective in reducing extreme poverty and hunger when it increases returns to labor and generates employment for the poor.
This World Food Day, Salesian Missions highlights Salesian agricultural programs, which include more than 90 agricultural schools around the globe.
In Bolivia, training in agriculture practices inspires transformation of communities. At the Muriyana Agricultural School, more than 600 high school students and 100 advanced students are receiving training while learning to integrate their work into the local community. An estimated 20,000 people in the communities benefit directly from this program as a result of the school’s extension and community outreach programs.
In Argentina, the Salesian-run Pascual Gentilini Agricultural School celebrated its 85 year history teaching agricultural skills to poor youth in Argentina. Today, the Agricultural School’s curriculum also includes lessons in community service, vegetable gardening, cooking, maintenance, music, annual crops, cultivation of tea, fruit farming, zootechnics, bee-keeping, cattle-raising, leadership training and social work. Agricultural technical training encompasses one to six years of study and the youth at the school are enthusiastic students, eager to learn modern methods of farming together with business management.
In Ecuador, through a microfinance credit program from Salesian Missions, indigenous and rural populations have access to funds for agricultural and microbusiness activities. Currently, 12,000 people are taking advantage of this opportunity in 85 different communities.
In Haiti, the Salesian Agricultural School in Cap-Haitien provides sought-after agricultural skills to more than 140 students who will contribute to the rebuilding of Haiti. Salesians are also working to develop programs that aid community development and contribute to the advancing of opportunities for the poor and underserved. Recently, Salesians proposed a project which included enhancing food security by improving agricultural production and productivity in agriculture schools in Fort Liberté, as well as Cap Haitien and Gressier.
In Rwanda, food insecurity is a major issue, according to the World Food Program. At least 22 percent of households (2.2 million people) are food-insecure, and another 24 percent are highly vulnerable to food insecurity. Today, Salesian Missions includes agriculture in its vocational training programs – to ensure that youth of Rwanda learn better agricultural practices as well as keep the school self-sustaining in the face of the country’s food shortages.