UAE’s Minister of State for Food and Water Security Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri’s recent observation — at the ongoing Gulfood, which seeks to not only look at business models in the food and food security domains, but also build them along sustainable lines — that the world is nowhere close to achieving Zero Hunger was right on point.
A whopping one-third portion of all food that is produced goes to waste, while as much as 800 million people remain hungry. And add to the mix the fact that a third of greenhouse gas emissions are coming from our current food systems. From all accounts, it’s a lop-sided and very grim situation that the planet is being held ransom to, and every single nation needs to throw in its hat into the ring with concerted and collaborative action plans.
It’s significant that Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri harped on the importance of the youth of this country playing a pivotal role in the transformation that the UAE is part of — in order to align with its vision of building a more sustainable and a more humanitarian world for future generations. We would all agree that an increased awareness on achieving a basic task such as providing food for all should at the top of any agenda. It is perhaps time for all of us — individually, as families and as communities — to be more responsible about something as simple as food wastage. Educating children about the food supply chains and about shortages around the world could be a good starting point; this can be achieved by inculcating in them a sense of empathy for those less privileged and instilling gratitude for being part of an eco-system that gets to have food on the table so that wastage is averted as much as possible.
For some time now, the UAE has been spearheading a ‘grow local, eat local’ movement. This is a country that doesn’t lend itself to a natural farming landscape, given its soil and topography, and yet, thanks to innovative techniques, we have done the impossible: begin a revolution in the farm sector. The UAE has been hailed as exemplary in this regard, with its leadership going all out to back the local farm sector. “If we can show how we grow food in hot arid climates in a water-scarce country with limited arable land, then we can solve a lot of the food systems problems around the world,” Almheiri said. This is automatically cutting down on carbon footprints; now is the time to encourage residents to proactively support the movement.
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