World hunger on the rise: We must provide nutrition for all, not just food
World hunger is on the rise, and many places in our world face deepening food crises. Now more than ever, it is crucial that we place nutritional quality at the heart of agriculture practices so we can provide nutrition, not just food, for all.
About 735 million people are currently facing hunger, an increase of 122 million people since 2019, according to the latest State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) report published by five United Nations specialized agencies, including the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
Food and nutrition security looked grim in 2022:
- About 2.4 billion people did not have access to constant food (nearly 30% of the global population), and around 900 million of these individuals faced severe food insecurity.
- More than 3.1 billion people, 42% of the global population, were unable to afford a healthy diet. That’s an overall increase of 134 million people compared to 2019.
- Millions of children under age 5 continue to suffer from malnutrition. In 2022, 148 million children under age 5 (22.2%) were stunted, 45 million (6.8%) were wasted, and 37 million (5.6%) were overweight.
Progress in hunger reduction was observed in Asia and Latin America, but hunger was still on the rise in Western Asia, in the Caribbean, and throughout all subregions of Africa. One in five people in Africa are facing hunger, more than twice the global average.
The report attributed the rise in hunger to the COVID-19 pandemic, repeated severe weather events, and geopolitical conflicts, such as the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Difficulties will persist as we battle climate change and the extreme weather events it causes.
With the current level of hunger, achieving the 2030 nutrition targets outlined in the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals will be a daunting challenge, the report said. By 2030, it is projected that almost 600 million people will still be facing hunger.
“The major drivers of food insecurity and malnutrition are our ‘new normal,’ and we have no option but to redouble our efforts to transform agri-food systems and leverage them towards reaching the Sustainable Development Goal 2 targets,” said the heads of the five U.N. agencies in the report's foreword.
Nourishing the World
To feed the world’s population, 70% more food will be required by the year 2060. But just feeding the world is not enough. We must provide nutrients.
Poor nutrition is the single greatest threat to the world’s health, according to the World Health Organization. Currently, one in four people on our planet is malnourished — over 2 billion people worldwide — and one in 10 people is undernourished.
The health consequences of poor nutrition are numerous and severe. In addition to reduced life expectancy, poor nutrition can cause complications in pregnancy and childbirth, higher risks of infectious diseases, reduced cognitive function, poor mental health, and more.
“To truly achieve nutrition for all, we will rely on both plants and animals,” said Nikki Putnam Badding, director of human nutrition initiatives at Alltech and managing director of Acutia, during her keynote address at Alltech ONE Dublin. “Animals provide us with essential nutrients that plants do not and vice versa. Nutrition security requires all food sources.”
A sustainable diet provides sufficient energy and essential nutrients to maintain the good health of the population without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their nutritional needs.
To deliver nutrition for all, we need more nutrient-dense food — quality meat, milk, eggs and seafood that are high in protein and crops that are grown in healthy soil. We must focus on essential nutrition, and we must deliver both quantity and quality. This can be accomplished by improving the health of animals and the soil, maximizing the value of feedstuffs, increasing the efficiency of the farm, and reinvesting in innovation.
Alltech has been helping producers meet these goals for more than 40 years. Our technologies help animals optimize the nutrients in their feed, thereby supporting the health and performance of livestock while also reducing their environmental impact.
Through collaboration and innovation, the agri-food community can create a world where science-based solutions help ensure sustainable food production for the global population.
“Agriculture has the greatest potential to be the world’s hero,” said Putnam Badding.
Alltech believes agriculture has the greatest potential to positively shape the future of our planet.
That's why we're uniting the agri-food community in Working Together for a Planet of Plenty™. A planet where science-based solutions help ensure sustainable food production for the global population. A planet where agriculture’s story is central to the development of thriving communities and ecosystems. A planet where, through collaboration and innovation, we can create a world of abundance for future generations.
Together, we can provide nutrition for all, revitalize local economies and replenish the planet’s natural resources.
A Planet of Plenty™ transcends environmental sustainability. It is a vision of a more positive future, full of promise and possibility. Join us in creating a future of sustainable nutrition and farming. Learn more at alltech.com/planet-of-plenty.