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Four out of ten kilos of food produced worldwide is wasted before being consumed, a new report by the Worldwatch Institute recently revealed. In its State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet, the non-profit says that African farmers, who make up 80% of the continent's population, need to be supported by more targeted and substantial aid.
Despite new and old initiatives underway, including the Obama administration's Feed the Future program and the United Nations World Food Programme, hunger still afflicts a large part of the world population - it is estimated that 925 million people are undernourished.
Due to the recession, global aid has fallen over the years, with agricultural funding representing 16% of all development aid in the 1980s to just 4% in the 2000s. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 2008 just $1.7 billion in official development assistance was earmarked to support agricultural projects in Africa.
“The international community has been neglecting entire segments of the food system in its efforts to reduce hunger and poverty,” said Danielle Nierenberg, co-director of Worldwatch's Nourishing the Planet project. “The solutions won't necessarily come from producing more food, but from changing what children eat in schools, how foods are processed and marketed, and what sorts of food businesses we are investing in.”
The report explores various initiatives underway, and gages whether they've been successful or not - and if they're worth replicating. In one example, urban farmers in a dense urban neighbourhood in Nairobi, Kenya, grew vertical gardens, placing sacks of dirt poked with holes along buildings, in order to feed their families. Almost two thirds of Africans are expected to live in cities by 2050, as compared to just one third now, and this method was highlighted as a means to cope with one of the many food sourcing issues the world faces.