This Day in History: World Food Day, October 16, 1945

World Food Day

World Food Day is celebrated every year around the world on 16 October in honor of the date of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 1945. The day is celebrated widely by many other organisations concerned with food security, including the World Food Programme.

Origins
World Food Day (WFD) was established by FAO’s Member Countries at the Organization’s 20th General Conference in November 1945. The Hungarian Delegation, led by the former Hungarian Minister of Agriculture and Food, Dr. Pál Romány has played an active role at the 20th Session of the FAO Conference and suggested the idea of celebrating the WFD worldwide. It has since been observed every year in more than 150 countries, raising awareness of the issues behind poverty and hunger.

Themes
Since 1981, World Food Day has adopted a different theme each year, in order to highlight areas needed for action and provide a common focus.

Most of the themes revolve around agriculture because only investment in agriculture – together with support for education and health – will turn this situation around. The bulk of that investment will have to come from the private sector, with public investment playing a crucial role, especially in view of its facilitating and stimulating effect on private investment.

In spite of the importance of agriculture as the driving force in the economies of many developing countries, this vital sector is frequently starved of investment. In particular, foreign aid to agriculture has shown marked declines over the past 20 years.

1981: Food comes first
1982: Food comes first
1983: Food security
1984: Women in agriculture
1985: Rural poverty
1986: Fishermen and fishing communities
1987: Small farmers
1988: Rural youth
1989: Food and the environment
1990: Food for the future
1991: Trees for life
1992: Food and nutrition
1993: Harvesting nature’s diversity
1994: Water for life
1995: Food for all
1996: Fighting hunger and malnutrition
1997: Investing in food security
1998: Women feed the world
1999: Youth against hunger
2000: A millennium free from hunger
2001: Fight hunger to reduce poverty
2002: Water: source of food security
2003: Working together for an international alliance against hunger
2004: Biodiversity for food security
2005: Agriculture and intercultural dialogue
2006: Investing in agriculture for food security
2007: The right to food
2008: World food security: the challenges of climate change and bioenergy
2009: Achieving food security in times of crisis
2010: United against hunger
2011: Food prices – from crisis to stability
2012: Agricultural cooperatives – key to feeding the world

Events
Events take place in over 150 countries to mark World Food Day. Below are example of events held across the world in recent years.

United States of America
World Food Day has been a tradition in the USA since the first World Food Day in 1982. In the United States the endeavor is sponsored by 450 national, private voluntary organizations.[1] One example for World Food Day events is the World Food Day Sunday Dinners that Oxfam America sponsors in collaboration with several other non profits.[2] Emeritus Archbishop Desmond Tutu[3] and author Francis Moore Lappe[4] have teamed up with Oxfam America to promote World Food Day Sunday Dinners. The Iowa Hunger Summit has been held on or near World Food Day since 2007, and is organized by the World Food Prize in conjunction with their annual symposium in Des Moines, Iowa.[5]

Europe
In Italy, ministries, universities, research agencies, international agencies and NGOs have organized many conferences as well as exhibitions and symposia. The Italian Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Policies organized a meeting which focused on women’s rights in rural areas in 2005.

In Germany, the Federal Ministry of Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture have all become involved via press conferences. Spanish television has been active in broadcasting events. FAO Goodwill Ambassador – Spanish soccer star Raul – has taken part in events and helped highlight food-security issues across his country.

The UK Food Group has also been active through conferences and media broadcasts. In the emerging economies of Eastern Europe – i.e., Albania, Armenia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Georgia, Hungary, Macedonia, Moldova, Serbia and Montenegro, and Slovak Republic – a variety of activities have been held.

In Hungary, renowned experts have given presentations in the Hungarian Agricultural Museum and FAO, and WFD medals have been awarded to well-known Hungarian experts by the FAO Sub-Regional Representative.

On behalf of the Holy See, Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI have sent an annual message for food producers and consumers on World Food Day.[6][7][8][9][10][11][12]

Africa
Angola celebrated WFD in 2005 through the 4th Forum on Rural Women, while in Burundi the second Vice-President planted potatoes to provide a symbolic example about food production. In Central African Republic, the President of the Republic has inaugurated a bridge at Boda to coincide with World Food Day, making the agricultural production area more accessible.

In Chad, thousands of people have attended debates, conferences and activities including theatre, films, folk dance, visits to project sites and visits by agricultural companies.

In Ghana, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture has hosted a food security conference, while Namibia has run an awareness campaign through national media.

Egypt has hosted a Forum on nutrition issues. Morocco and Tunisia have held seminars and exhibitions.

Asia
The Government of Bangladesh has been involved through organizing a food festival; in China in 2005, celebrations were organized in Qujing City, where numerous ethnical minorities live, by the Ministry of Agriculture and the Government of Qujing City, with the participation of a number of senior officials of the Government.

In the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, seminars have been held and visits made to various project sites. The Ministry of Agriculture of Indonesia has in the past organized a major Food Expo in Bandung, West Java, while a Farmers’ and Fishermen’s Workshop of NGOs was held in Bali.

In Armenia, staff from the Ministry of Agriculture, non-governmental organizations, Armenian State Agriculture University, the donor community, international organizations, and the mass media have participated in the World Food Day ceremony. In Afghanistan, representatives of Ministries, embassies, UN agencies, International Financial Organizations, National and International NGOs and FAO staff have attended the World Food Day ceremony.

In Cyprus, special ceremonies have been organized in primary and secondary schools, where teachers explained the significance of World Food Day.

Latin America
In Chile, exhibitions of indigenous food products have been prepared by local communities. In Argentina, senior officials of the Government, academics, international organizations and the press have participated in the main ceremony. In Mexico in 2005, a National Campaign for a “Mexico Without Hunger” was held, with the involvement and support of civil society and students. In Cuba, producers have been able to exchange views and experiences at an agricultural fair. The media strongly supports awareness campaigns on World Food Day; for example in Venezuela there has been national coverage of events.

 

References

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