How can our political parties tackle global hunger this election?

Campaigning for change article written on the 03 Jun 2013

Photo: Pablo Tosco/Intermon Oxfam

By Clancy Moore

Adriana is one of the many small-scale farmers around the world. However, in her village many people including young children and Adriana’s own son, Juandro, were going hungry. Chronic malnutrition is estimated to be as high as 60% in Timor-Leste. But change is happening.

With help from Oxfam, Adriana’s village is tackling hunger by starting its own vegetable gardens. Adriana now grows cassava, papaya, pumpkin, spinach and tomatoes. Adriana and Juandro now have enough food to meet their nutritional needs. She also earns an income by selling excess produce to her local market.

Women like Adriana are at the heart of global food system. They produce a great proportion of the food we eat, yet have little access to land and their farm work is often underpaid and undervalued.

If women farmers had equal access to the resources – such as land, seeds, fertilisers and training – that poor men have access to, between 100 million and 150 million more people would have enough to eat.

Tell the Foreign Minister and Shadow Foreign Minister that we can reduce hunger with targeted support of small-scale food producers.

Whilst Adriana’s story is one example of aid helping to fight hunger, there are still 870 million people, or 1 in 8 of us, going to bed hungry every night. This is despite the fact that the world produces enough food to feed everyone.

Currently, Australia invests 0.37% of our national income in overseas aid, or just 37 cents of every $100. If the food security budget were to double by 2016, and the aid program increased to 50 cents in every 100 dollars of government income as both major parties had committed to do, food security would be around 11% of the aid budget. This is still relatively low – it was 14% of the aid budget in 2003.

Importantly, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation say the Millennium Development Goal of halving hunger by 2015 is ‘within reach’ with further investment. Increasing our support to small-scale food producers would also help Australia do its fair share in meeting the goal of halving global hunger by 2015.

This election, Australia has an opportunity to tackle global hunger and help poor farmers like Adriana become more resilient, get more food to market and farm in more productive and ecologically sustainable ways.

Clancy Moore is Oxfam’s GROW Campaign Coordinator