By Mark Ritchie, President of Global Minnesota, and Bountifield Advisory Board Member
This past year, on October 16th, Minnesotans gathered via Zoom for a special World Food Day symposium, commemorating the 75th anniversary of the creation of the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), hosted by Global Minnesota. This day-long event, “Countdown to Zero Hunger in 2030,” deepened the partnerships needed to accelerate our progress towards Sustainable Development Goal #2 – Zero Hunger. It was a great honor to work closely with Bountifield International on this event.
Working with food, farming, and hunger-related issues has been my life-long passion – something I that came to me around the dinner table when I was growing up where hunger was often a topic of intense discussion in my family.
My dad joined the Marine Corps right out of high school, ending up in the occupation of China that took place at the end of World War II. He was there during one of the worst periods of famine – both in China and around the world, where he witnessed people dying on the streets from hunger. This experience shaped his life. As a World War II veteran, he used the GI bill to study agriculture at the University of Georgia, and then biochemistry at Michigan State University in East Lansing. He went on to a life-long career at the US Department of Agriculture conducting animal disease research on everything from hog cholera, and sheep scrapies, to avian flu. He believed that science could help farmers, and by helping farmers the world could someday be without hunger. His passion to make the planet hunger free did not have a target date, like we have now with the UN’s 2030 campaign. However, he did believe that humans could harness science to end malnourishment.
When I first heard about the UN-led campaign to reach the sustainable development goal of “Zero Hunger by 2030,” I was very excited to have this kind of specific target as a focused approach. We have successfully used this campaign to make great strides towards this goal since it was agreed upon by all Heads of State in 2015. The recent COVID-19 pandemic has been a major setback for now, but it has been a powerful wakeup call for more intensive and sustained efforts to get there on time – to zero hunger by 2030.
Having grown up during the Great Depression, my dad knew that a major cause of hunger is bad weather and other natural disasters such as droughts, floods, earthquakes, and hurricanes. In this time of climate-chaos and other accelerated patterns of weather disruptions, there has to be a very robust and courageous emergency food delivery system poised and ready.
To get to zero hunger will require humanity to have enough food in storage and properly positioned around the planet with the logistics to move quickly. One of the reasons I am such a huge supporter of the work of Bountifield International is the successful marriage of practical technological postharvest solutions for farmers with educating and inspiring the general public. These solutions help rural smallholder farming communities to improve their postharvest processing and storage practices that strengthen food systems the African populations will require to improve food security across the continent. Hunger is not forever, solutions to practical problems faced by farmers do exist, and passionately committed people, like the staff, board, and volunteers at Bountifield are moving us towards zero hunger despite the pandemic.
World Food Day in 2020 was a very special day, and you can still catch one or more of the amazing presentations and panel discussions on the archive page of Global Minnesota, including the exciting panel moderated by Bountifield’s CEO Alexandra Spieldoch. “Voices from the Front Lines: SDGs and Food Solutions.” In case you missed it, all sessions from the conference are available to view online. Despite this time of a global pandemic, great work happens everyday thanks to Bountifield International and their partners. If we continue to work together through the challenges, just think what we can accomplish between now and 2030!
Join the movement to reach zero hunger by 2030 with a gift to Bountifield International. Your donation helps support Bountifield’s contributition to the global efforts to end hunger by creating more opportunity to process, save, and sell more food. Help us fight hunger with opportunity with a gift today.