By Silvanus Lamin
The theme of world food day 2019 is ‘Our Actions Are Our Future. Healthy Diets for a Zero Hunger World’. It focuses on tackling global hunger. If analyze and observe our markets and food production systems we could easily now find that our diets and eating habits have changed. We seldom eat seasonal, fibre food and plant based food. We prefer to have refined, starches, sugar, fats, salt, processed food, meat, etc. to satisfy our hunger which resulted in the increased trend of health hazards and diseases.
In order to mark and observe the world food day BARCIK organized different activities in its working areas focusing on production of chemical free and safe food for all living things. Thus, the organization organized discussion, rallies, human chain, uncultivated food display and cooking contest, arranged quiz and other sorts of activities to create awareness among the community people regarding the negative impact of refined starches and processed foods in human health. In addition, it is through the whole year development activities and programs that BARCIK inspires and encourages farmers to practice sustainable agriculture that does not require chemical fertilizers and pesticides. The indigenous knowledge based sustainable agriculture produces safe foods and ensure food security of people. Below are some of the activities implemented by BARCIK in its working areas to create awareness regarding the importance of safe foods and negative impact of fast and junk food:
We want safe and nutritious foods for a healthy world
Due to excessive use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in the crop’s field today most of the uncultivated plants, which are sources of foods, medicines and nutrition, have got extinct in our locality’. The women and farmers in Manikgonj expressed their concerns in program arranged by BARCIK to observe world food day on 16 October in Manikgonj. They said that in the past there were many natural plants in their area and some of them collected these plants to use as foods, medicines and nutrition. But today the use of chemicals, unplanned development initiatives and the practice of commercial agriculture have been responsible for the extinction of these plants.
However, BARCIK arranged cooking contest with the uncultivated plants during the world food day with the view to let people know regarding the importance of uncultivated food plants as sources of safe and nutritious foods. The deputy agriculture officer of Ghior Manikgonj Bilop Kumar thus said, ‘We have killed many uncultivated plants and degraded the environment by using chemicals for increased yields. We also built our houses occupying the crop’s lands. We do not tend to know regarding the nutritional value of the plants which grow naturally in our surrounding.’
On the other hand, Charu Nokrek a teacher of a high school in Netrakona Kalmakanda said in a program arranged by BARCIK to observe the world food day, ‘We see lots of things in the TV regarding the adultery foods sold in the markets. So, we need to be careful while buying foods and mass awareness should be created to save life. We do not need only to think on how we contribute to make a zero hunger world but also we need to focus on how we ensure safe food all life forms in the world. Nutritious and safe foods should our first priority when we fight against hunger.’
We will protect the biodiversity of our area
‘There are lot of plant diversity our area still today. Our parents would share that they did not buy vegetable from the market because they could collect some plants from the nature. But today as young generation we seldom see such uncultivated plants in the nature. But if we wish we can still protect and conserve the existing biodiversity in our area.’
The youths from Satkhira shared their views while participating in the event called ‘Uncultivated plant Fair’ arranged by BARCIK to observe the world food day yesterday (16 October, 2019). The women who participated in the event said, ‘We live in coastal area where almost every day we have face disasters and hazards. But there were abundant biodiversity in the nature which helped us to ease food crisis during disasters. But now this biodiversity has declined due to unplanned activities and as well as salinity intrusion through shrimp farming. We have contributed in the depletion process of biodiversity by using chemical fertilizers and pesticides in agriculture’. Minoty Rani said, ‘Today I am happy to see different plants collected from the nature which are sources of food and medicines. The fair arranged by BARCIK has helped us to recognize uncultivated plants in nature which we can use as food and medicines.’
Do you want to be a farmer?
In order to create awareness regarding the importance of agriculture and sustainable food production system BARCIK arranged an open discussion with the youths in Rajshahi where the organization threw some questions to them about agriculture and safe food production. The youths and participants in the event focused on production of safe foods to free hunger from their areas. They said, ‘Food should be produced considering the environment, ecosystem, diversity, culture and needs of the people. Including the food security of humans one also should think and consider the availability of foods for other living things on this earth. We cannot risk the food security of all life forms to meet our food demands and establish our food security. Therefore, the state should take initiatives to ensure safe food for all life forms’.
Yousuf Mulla and some other experienced farmers who practiced sustainable agriculture and have succeeded in producing safe foods shared their experienced with the youth in the event with the aim to encourage and inspire the young generation to show interest in agriculture. However, having participated in this events the youth learned about the negative impact of chemicals, pesticides and processed foods and made an oath to work for ensuring safe food for all life forms.
However, due to having unhealthy diets and sedentary lifestyles obesity in people is increasing in developed, low-income countries. According to FAO, 670 million adults and 120 million girls and boys of the age group 5 to 18 years are obese and 40 million children under 5 are overweight. Around 820 million people suffer from hunger today. These figures are alarming because we could not shift ourselves to our ancient indigenous food habits and production system. The corporate production system still focuses on producing unhealthy, genetic engineered and unhygienic foods that boost their profit. The priority of these corporate food production authorities is profit; not human health and health of other living things. Nonetheless, a healthy diet meets the nutritional needs of people by providing sufficient, safe, nutritious and diverse foods to lead a good life and reduce the risk of disease. Therefore, we need to take initiative from our own perspective to conserve the naturally grown food plants in our surroundings and in the same times to persuade the state taking action against the culprits of adultery foods. In addition, sustainable agriculture which ensures the healthy environment and ecosystem and which also considers cultural food production based on the aspiration of any given community need to be promoted to ensure safe food for all.