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World Food Day, October 16, was established by the United Nations in 1981 as a day to encourage people to think about and take action against the global food problem. The date was chosen as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN was established on October 16 in 1945. Its goal is to promote international cooperation in working towards reducing hunger and poverty in the world.
Halving the proportion of people suffering from hunger by 2015 is one of the targets of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which aim to bring developing and developed countries together to realize the world without poverty. However, the number of starving people has been increasing instead. Although the world’s hungry population began dropping during the 1990s, it started increasing in the 2000s, and the soaring prices of grains and other foods pushed it to exceed one billion people in 2009.
While there are more people who are not being able to satisfactorily feed themselves and their families, we Japanese are more dependent on imported food from overseas. The country's food self-sufficiency ratio is 40% today, which is the lowest level among other industrialized countries. Further, about 19 million tons of food are discarded annually in Japan, which easily surpasses 7.5 million or the total amount of annual food aid supplied by the entire world. To solve food issues in developing countries, it is essential to review and change how we eat in developed countries.
In Japan, The month of October is designated as World Food Day Month in which international institutions and nongovernmental organizations help each other to hold a variety of events nationwide to promote the awareness of world hunger in the country. This year’s theme is “United Against Hunger,” which was selected to express the supporters’ goal to ease the global food issues and share the pleasure of eating with people around the world. The official website of the World Food Day Month 2010 provides information about the current situations of the global food problem while introducing related events which you may find interesting. The World Food Day invites you to be part of the efforts to solve hunger in the world. Remember that our dining table is connected to the world.
World Food Day Month 2010: http://www.worldfoodday-japan.net/ (in Japanese only)