24 July Jul 2014 1358 24 July 2014

European Semester: Feeding the planet through democracy and diversity

A debate about European policies and the right to food. Promoted by CONCORD Italia, it took place on July 14th in Florence, Italy, during the informal meeting of EU development ministers.

The event “Feeding the planet through democracy and diversity” has opened the program of activities and it was included in the project “More and Better Europe”, co-funded by the European Commission and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The meeting took place since last United Nations' Special Rapporteur, Olivier De Schutter's report, who introduced the conference “The transformative potential of the right to food”.
AVSI Foundation took part in the event too with its significant experience in the field of nutrition. "The good news are that the potential for a proper nutrition for everyone already exists. The challenge is to create a new model of production and consumption that is sustainable and accessible to everyone" said Maria Teresa Gatti, Director of the Knowledge Center AVSI, during her speech at the panel. "And to this point we, the NGOs, come into play, standing close to local populations in order to produce a bottom-up change.
In our experience, this coincides with the the problem of the last mile. Getting a radical change involves two main issues which goes hand in hand: nutrition and agriculture. "Nutrition is an educational process”, Maria Teresa Gatti reminded. “Weaning is an example. Mothers give new food, but gradually. If a mother ignores that a certain food is fundamental for a child's growth and if the child once refuses it, she'll probably be induced not to try anymore".
Therefore it is necessary to work together with mothers, especially in the poorest countries, to train them and to let them understand the meaning of motherhood as well as food production with local goods, as shown in the experience of Haiti with flour.
The other focal point is food production. There are very productive agricultural areas in Uganda but at the same time these are the same areas where the highest rates of undernourishment is concentrated. What is produced does not enter into the food chain, it does not become energy for children's lives. Those are the children who are not able to obtain an adequate development and who remain in the cycle of poverty.
The enhancement of local production, processing into food, the development of a local market, are all fundamental aspects that should be recovered and valued as a central factor for sustainable agriculture. Half a billion of working people already live like that and they need to be supported with a close tiling work.