Message from Agriculture Minister Yeshey Penjor on the World Food Day 2022

World Food Day, October 16, 2022  

Among many international days observed by the UN member states, the World Food Day (WFD), marked every year on 16th October, is one very important international day observed globally. 

In Bhutan, we take great pride in observing this important day even if it is on a modest scale. Every year the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, Royal Government of Bhutan joins the UN member countries to observe this important day. 

Despite the ongoing economic difficulties and constraints in the developmental initiatives resulting from the COVID 19 pandemic, Bhutan takes great pride in observing this day with close involvement of various stakeholders like FAO, WFP, JICA and other international development partners. It is time we remind ourselves to work together and create a more sustainable future for all. It is time that we make global awareness and take actions towards zero hunger and policy to leave no one behind. 

This year marks the 77th anniversary of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) on which Bhutan would like to acknowledge the continued support received from FAO and WFP. We are glad that FAO Rome has released this year’s global theme as “Better production, better nutrition, better environment and a better life” that are very relevant to the goals of our Ministry. Hence on this day, the Ministry of Agriculture would like to re-dedicate our efforts and commitment towards Food and Nutrition Security of the country. 

On this day let us be reminded of the UN theme “Leaving No one Behind” a holistic social and economic development theme. This theme reminds us that we are all one big family with a common goal of achieving food and nutrition security for a better life. If anyone is left behind, then the whole chain of better life is broken and that will impact all of us.

Hence, in the face of global crises, global solutions are needed more than ever. By aiming for better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life, we can transform the agri-food systems and build forward better by implementing sustainable and holistic solutions that considers inclusive economic growth, and greater resilience development in the long run. 

A forum like the World Food Day provides us with a platform to listen to the voices of common people and strategize resilient policies that meet the needs of the hour. Hence the World Food Day observed around the world makes great sense. 

Globally, we are facing numerous challenges such as post COVID 19 pandemic syndromes, climate change, and social conflicts that cause rising food prices that pose challenges to our food production activities and many other developmental activities impeding the achievement of food and nutrition security in the nation and around the world. 

Hunger and starvation are a major problem in many countries globally, and we need to do more to raise awareness and combat this through sustainable farming systems. Today, of the 7.8 billion people on earth, there are about 957 million people who do not have enough to eat and 3.1 billion people who cannot afford a healthy diet. Worldwide, more than 80 percent of the population living in rural areas rely on the agriculture sector as a source of livelihood. Our policies and efforts must be sound enough to help make a difference if we must grow as a global family.

To mitigate these persistent global challenges, in Bhutan, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests has been endeavoring all possible means and efforts to boost agriculture production to overcome the key challenge of achieving food and nutrition security for all. 

The Economic Contingency Plan (ECP) is a case in point where the ministry strategized a series of options to boost the domestic food production including commercializing farm initiatives through farm mechanization, land consolidation, land banking, and urban farming, among others. Linking farm production to schools and hospital feeding arrangements. The food fortification programmes provide better nutrition to our school children and have proven to be a successful venture where our school children get to consume fresh organic vegetables that are grown by their parents while the growers have gained assured market at their doorsteps. Human-wildlife conflicts are reduced with electric fencing and repellent gadgets, which has enhanced our production system and reduced the crop loss significantly. 

However, with all these efforts, the world in general has not progressed well towards ensuring access to sufficient and nutritious food for all. Such a trend not only hinders the national goal of achieving food self-sufficiency but also impedes in the achieving of UN SDG goals, of achieving “ZERO HUNGER” by 2030. Hence our collective efforts make a great difference in achieving global goals.

It is alarming to note the state of Food and Nutrition Security 2021 published by FAO, reflecting that hunger among the world population continues to rise and it affected 828 million people in 2021; an increase of about 46 million people since 2020, and 150 million since 2019. 

On this day, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forest, Royal Government of Bhutan, would like to advocate that every global citizen be part of food production and reduce food and water waste. Let us all remember that there are many people who are unable to afford a proper meal in a day, while many of us tend to waste lots of food either from our plates or in the food value chain. Our actions on the zero-food waste strategy will certainly save food and water for other needy people around the world. 

On this day we should not forget our food heroes — the farmers, who produce food for the world population. Without their hard work the world would starve and perish. Therefore, our sincere gratitude to all the food producers of the world will remain strong and consistent. 

Lastly, let us join hands with over 150 countries globally in marking this important day — World Food Day — a remarkable occasion to promote worldwide awareness on eradicating world hunger and taking actions to boost food production and achieving food and nutrition security for all. 

Tashi Delek!