The phrase “world hunger” is widely recognized throughout the United States. Yet, what does the phrase really imply? More importantly, what can we, as members of a developed, net food exporting nation do to help? Monday, May 21, 2013 marked the second annual World Affairs Council of Atlanta’s Global Health & Hunger Summit. The summit focused on issues related to world hunger by presenting the thoughts and opinions of some of the best and brightest individuals in the realm of public health, public policy, and industry leaders whose line of work revolves around providing food to our planet.
United States, Georgia state Senator Johnny Isakson, led the opening discussion. Mr. Isakson explained that providing food to developing countries is much more than demonstrating The United States’ generosity and dedication towards helping people in need. Providing food security is not only an act of aid, but a matter of national security. Senator Isakson highlighted that terrorist organizations target the, “Hungry, Ignorant, and Thirsty” to strengthen their forces. Thus, providing food serves not only to make a healthier world, but also a safer one. That’s a fact that is often forgotten when world hunger is discussed; however, intuitively, it makes a great deal of sense.
The Atlanta Summit on Global Health & Hunger also emphasized the importance of child nutrition. The speakers endorsed the introduction of micro-nutrients into children’s diets to prevent stunting, the implementation of plans and educational tools for pregnant women in developing nations, and using cash and vouchers to feed hungry families across the world. This differs from the previously used method of shipping supplies directly to the people in need. Possible solutions were offered that might help to reduce the problem of child malnutrition: investing in female education, providing supplements to children in developing nations, and most importantly engaging the national government of the country in need.
As a member of the audience, it became clear that something was missing. Certainly, research facilities, non-profit organizations, and publicly funded medical institutes are absolutely crucial in assuaging world hunger; yet, part of the entire picture remained unpainted. A developing nation needs economic catalysts to foster sustainable food security systems within their own communities as well as for the global economy. This can be to provide them with the equipment, means of communication, income, and infrastructure necessary for growth to occur. There was only one actor in my mind that is capable of conducting this feat: corporations. The Collaborations Across Sectors- Successes and Challenges panel discussed the connections between corporations, research foundations, public agencies, and non-profit organizations to the overall picture of solving world hunger.
Corporations such as AGCO, UPS, and the Coca-Cola Company invest in emerging markets to support, and often times facilitate the country’s growth. Eric Raby, AGCO’s VP of Global Marketing and Commercial Development shared the panel with the Coca-Cola Company’s Denise McKnight (Global Sustainable Agriculture Director), Eduardo Martinez (President, UPS Foundation), and Jeff Johnson ( President, Birdsong Peanuts Company) to discuss the successes and challenges associated with collaborating efforts across sectors in developing nations. Conducting operations in foreign lands—especially in developing nations—is never an easy task. One of the issues revolves around coordinating efforts with the local population. For an operation to work, every affected party needs to be involved. It is for this reason that AGCO purchased a farm in Lusaka, Zambia. The farm will serve as one of AGCO’s Global Learning Centers and Future Farms. It will educate, acclimate, and spread best-practice knowledge to the members of the local community. Mr. Raby concluded with, “Success will be longer when you involve the people already inhabiting a place.”
World Hunger is a serious issue. Almost a billion children and adults in the world are victims of hunger and malnutrition. The Atlanta Summit on Global Health & Hunger highlighted that it will take coordinating the efforts of everyone—the non-profit groups, members of academia, public policy legislators, members of local communities, and corporations—to truly make a difference. AGCO has demonstrated its commitment to helping ease the problem of world hunger, and plans to continue in the future.