To mark World Food Day and highlight the need to invest in local food production systems, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) today distributed agricultural inputs to farmers and hosted a farmers’ market.
The events celebrate and recognise the food heroes of Cox’s Bazar who have kept food supply chains open and the delivery of humanitarian assistance running during the COVID-19 pandemic, said a press release.
WFP and FAO have been working with farmers in Cox’s Bazar to strengthen production systems and create market linkages that will help smallholder farmers produce and sell more, benefitting their families, local communities, and national agricultural production.
“Today we have distributed animal feed and fruit seedlings to our food heroes, recognizing their exceptional work in boosting food production. FAO is working with the Government of Bangladesh to support 25,000 farmers and 1200 farmers groups in Cox’s Bazar,” said Marco De Gaetano, who heads FAO’s Cox’s Bazar office.. “We are supporting the Government of Bangladesh to engage everyone involved in the food chain to transform our food systems by changing the way food is produced, processed, and consumed.”
The Farmers’ Market was a demonstration of the WFP Farmers’ Market in the Rohingya camps which engages local suppliers – a mixture of WFP and FAO-supported farmers as well as private sector suppliers – to provide and sell the produce. As well as improving economic opportunities for the host community it is also one of the first interventions to bring together the host community and Rohingya in one space helping to promote social cohesion.
“The Farmers’ Market generates an average of BDT15 million per month in sales which is money going straight back into the local economy and supporting sustainable food systems,” said Sheila Grudem, WFP’s Senior Emergency Coordinator in Cox’s Bazar. “Smallholder farmers are an integral part of sustainable food systems and we’re proud to support farmers here not only as they start and grow their businesses but also in providing market linkages to make it a sustainable livelihood.”
This year many countries have been impacted by the socio-economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic – particularly loss of earnings and remittances – which is heightening existing threats to global hunger. The number of acutely hungry people in the world could increase by more than 100 million this year, according to WFP-FAO estimates.
WFP and FAO call for global action to improve the systems that produce and distribute the food we eat, so that people can better withstand shocks, including the COVID-19 pandemic, to avoid alarming surges in the level of hunger around the globe.
World Food Day 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of FAO in an exceptional moment as countries around the world deal with the widespread effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Collective action across 150 countries is what makes World Food Day one of the most celebrated days of the UN calendar. Hundreds of events and outreach activities bring together governments, businesses, NGOs, the media, and general public. They promote worldwide awareness and action for those who suffer from hunger and for the need to ensure healthy diets for all.