Organic Farming and Poverty Reduction
Organic agriculture carries varying degrees of significance for people around the world. Consumers rely upon the health benefits that organic products provide, some producers depend on the higher prices organic products allow them to charge and producers and consumers alike depend upon the environmentally conscientious philosophy that organic lifestyles promote. For these reasons and more, organic farming and poverty reduction are intimately related.

Organic Farming Benefits and Deterrents

Organic agriculture is a method of production that forgoes the use of pesticides and chemicals in favor of practices that respect the health and purity of the land on which production occurs. Producing without fertilizers and pesticides, however, can be extremely difficult as crop growth is less predictable and plants are much more vulnerable to weather conditions and natural disaster. Thus, when considering the relationship between organic farming and poverty reduction, it is important to remember that organic farming communities do not necessarily always benefit from this form of production. It requires sacrifice and risk.

A major impediment to the ability of farmers to produce and sell organic products on the international market is the extremely high price of organic certification. First, farmers must pay an application fee, then they must pay an annual inspection fee and, finally, an annual certification fee. In Africa, the average cost for organic cocoa certification is $5,500. This is far too much for many small-scale organic farms to pay. They are thus left to sell their products locally.

Still, in countries around the world, people are heavily dependent upon the land for their income and sustenance. This means that any damage to the land severely impedes their ability to sustain an income and to feed themselves. The use of chemicals and pesticides can provide fatal long-term damage to land that could otherwise produce valuable resources. This means that organic farming, despite its difficulties, must be promoted in poverty-stricken areas. Consumers who are able should spend the extra dollar to buy organic products in order to support these farming communities.

How Organic Farming and Poverty Reduction Go Together

There are many important ways that organic farming and poverty reduction go hand in hand. In the long term, organic farmers are likely to earn higher incomes than conventional farmers due to lower costs of crop production and maintenance and the ability to charge higher premiums.

Organic farming also ameliorates food insecurity as organic farmers are able to grow a diversity of crops that help sustain one another. Farmers are able to live off their own production and if one crop fails in a given season, they can still depend on others both to sell and to feed their own families.

Organic farmers also face lower healthcare costs. The use of pesticides and chemicals is often the source of several kinds of medical problems, which can result in expensive medical bills for poor agricultural families. Organic farming is, overall, better for the farmer’s health.

There are parts of the world that recognize the important role of organic farming in poverty reduction. In Asia, it is predicted that organic food sales will rise 20 percent in the following five years. Additionally, organic agriculture around the world increased from $18 billion to $64 billion from 2000 to 2012.

Organic farming can play a crucial role in the reduction of global poverty. Many have already begun to recognize this and are taking action to spread organic practices. Still, it is very difficult for farmers to attain certification impeding the ability for organic farming to stand as a viable option for a great many. If these problems are addressed, the role of organic farming in poverty reduction can only continue to positively grow.

– Julia Bloechl

Facts About Humanitarian Aid

Throughout the twentieth and twenty-first century, the global community has made a concentrated effort toward ending world poverty. Very often, Americans hear of the term “humanitarian aid” without a transparent knowledge of what that aid does or who and where it goes to. Below are nine interesting facts about humanitarian aid, including some of the origins of organized aid, countries and organizations that provide aid and the countries that benefit from humanitarian aid provisions.

Humanitarian Aid Facts

  1. One of the less well-known facts about humanitarian aid is that it is thought to have originated toward the tail end of the nineteenth century. The first global aid relief effort came about during the Great Northern Chinese Famine of 1876-79 that killed nearly 10 million of China’s rural population. British missionary Timothy Richard called attention to the famine and raised what is valued at $7-10 million today in an organized relief effort to end the famine.
  2. Modern western imagery of humanitarian aid came about during the 1983-1985 Ethiopian famine. BBC reporting from Michael Buerk showcased imagery of the “Biblical famine” that shocked the world.
  3. The publicity surrounding the Ethiopian famine led to a worldwide western effort to raise money and bring an end to the plight. Irish singer-songwriter Bob Geldof organized the Live Aid event that raised over €30 million and set the precedent for humanitarian aid fundraising events across the globe.
  4. Every year, the amount of humanitarian aid contributed by developed countries to places where aid is needed has increased. In 2017, the global community contributed $27.3 billion of foreign aid toward humanitarian relief efforts.
  5. According to Development Initiative, approximately 164 million individuals are in direct need of humanitarian aid. Those in the direst need of relief include the 65.6 million individuals displaced from their home countries and individuals that live in the world’s most dangerous countries such as Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.
  6. Another interesting fact about humanitarian aid is that the largest humanitarian aid organization fighting world hunger is the World Food Programme (WFP). Each year, the WFP reaches about 90 million individuals in approximately 80 countries.
  7. Humanitarian aid is also donated in large quantities toward natural disaster relief. To illustrate, Red Cross relief efforts toward the tragic 2010 earthquake in Haiti raised approximately $488 million.
  8. In 2014, United States spent about $2.7 billion of its foreign aid budget on humanitarian aid. This money is mostly used to care for refugees who have been displaced from their home countries.
  9. One of the more serious facts about humanitarian aid is that relief workers have a tough and dangerous job. In 2017, over 150 employees were attacked while trying to conduct their work. However, many would argue that the risk is worth the lives that these individuals save.

Based on these facts about humanitarian aid, it is clear that global aid is vital to creating a global community of countries that care about one another. The global aid network creates a myriad of positive outcomes in global health, development and politics, truly saving the lives of many.

– Daniel Levy

Photo: Pixabay

poverty in Cyprus
Cyprus is a Mediterranean nation with about a quarter of its population living in poverty, but it’s difficult to understand the full scope of the issue because the government does not consider poverty in Cyprus to be a major issue worthy of recording.

To make matters more complex, Cyprus is a nation divided between the north and south. The north is a self-declared Turkish Republic, and the south is known simply as the Republic of Cyprus. This division makes keeping track of those in need on the island more difficult.

 

A Brief History

Cyprus was classified as a low-income country by the U.N. until 1988, and received $331.6 million in aid from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the U.N. from 1973 to 1988. Cyprus has since become a popular vacation spot and rebounded from its tumultuous past; however, the nation has not shown its citizens as much attention as it has its economy. Of the 1.17 million people living in this popular tourist destination in 2016, 230,000 individuals were at risk of poverty.

 

Tracking Poverty

One reason it’s hard to track poverty in Cyprus is due to the large Greek population in the south. They have strong familial relations, and if one family member suffers from poverty, there is usually someone in the family willing to take them in. Due to this, most at-risk individuals in Cyprus are immigrants, single mothers and retired elderly with no family.

Gathering statistics on poverty in the North is even more difficult, since the country is only recognized by one other U.N. nation (Turkey). Because of this, statistics aren’t regularly collected, and the only ones that are relate to GDP.

 

International Aid

In June 2012, Cyprus became the fifth euro-area member to request international aid. At the time of President Nicos Anastasiades’ first election, Cyprus had been shut out of debt markets for two years, with lenders losing 4.5 billion euros in 2012’s restructuring of Greek sovereign debt.

Over 100,000 people in Cyprus are unemployed, and shopkeepers and small businesses struggle to make ends meet. The nongovernmental organization, Volunteer Groups, reported that there are still over 12,000 additional families in desperate need of basic provisions.

 

Supporting the Community

Food lines and soup kitchens are a part of daily life for at least 40,000 Cypriot families. The Sophia Foundation and other charities are busy feeding school children and citizens in destitution. Up for election again in 2017, Nicos Anastasiades ran against opposition party leader Andros Kypriano — Kypriano said that the president is never called out on the issues of poverty in Cyprus.

“Mr. Anastasiades is not asked to explain why, whereas he and his administration are portraying Cyprus as something akin to Switzerland, about one-third of the population is on the poverty threshold. For the last five years this government has turned its back on low-income pensioners, disabled persons and sick people.”

Hopefully with more time and development, Cyprus will not only be able to accurately and comprehensively document its impoverished population, but it will also be able to make strides in poverty eradication.

– Sam Bramlett

Photo: Pixabay

food security in EthiopiaAccording to USAID, Ethiopia’s economy is dependent on agriculture, which is 43 percent of the GDP and 90 percent of Ethiopia’s exports. With such a significant economic reliance on a single sector, the community must section a large amount of dedicated time and resources towards agriculture’s viability for food security in Ethiopia.

 

Barriers to Food Security in Ethiopia

Access to weather-resistant seeds, fertilizers and pesticides is limited in Ethiopia. On top of that, only a small percentage of the land is actually irrigated. All of these combine to threaten agricultural output. The livelihoods of farmers are at risk if they do not have high enough crop yields to support themselves and sell in the market.

Since its discovery in 1939, there is one crop that has continued to contribute towards food security in Ethiopia. It is a crop that farmers do not worry about and it is a source of nutritional value for all consumers. This crop is commonly referred to as the “false banana.”

 

The Importance of the “False Banana”

Its scientific name is Ensete ventricosum; it is a perennial crop indigenous to Ethiopia. Enset is called the “false banana” because of its similarity in appearance. However, it is usually taller and fatter, with no edible fruits.

Over time, it has ranked as the most important cultivated staple food crop in the highlands of central, south and southwestern Ethiopia. It has been discovered to be weather resistant, which earned enset another title: “the tree against hunger”.

This weather resistance happens because the bulk of this plant is composed of air, then water and then fiber. The cells in the leaves hold an incredible amount of water for years. Therefore, even if Ethiopia faces a drought, this incredible plant can survive up to seven years without rain.

The main product of enset is the starchy pit from its “pseudo-stem,” which is pulped and then fermented for a few months before producing kocho, which is a solid staple that is eaten with bread, milk, cheese, cabbage, meat or coffee. Its diversity in usage makes it an excellent crop to bring food security to Ethiopia. According to an article published by Kyoto University, over 15 million people depend on enset to supplement their diets.

 

Bacterial Wilt and Solutions

Recently, a bacterial wilt caused by Xanthomnas campestris has ravaged enset, putting many enset farming systems at risk. As of 2017, according to a publication on Agriculture and Life Security, “up to 80 percent of enset farms in Ethiopia are currently infected with enset Xanthomonas wilt.” This disease has forced many farmers to abandon their crop production and threatens their survival.

Control of this bacterial disease is challenging, but sanitation and reducing the bacteria’s transmission rates are key. The same study from Agriculture and Life Security wrote that “Management practices recommended for EXW and BXW include uprooting and discarding infected plants, planting healthy, disease-free plants from less susceptible varieties, disinfecting farm tools after every use, crop rotation, avoiding overflow of water from infected to uninfected fields, removing alternate hosts around plants…”

The government must focus on educational programs to teach farmers how to manage all of the above steps towards reducing bacterial wilt in their enset plants.

Another method is currently in process, led by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, which has partnered with the National Agricultural Research Organization and the African Agricultural Technology Foundation in order to develop transgenetic enset that are resistant to the bacterial wilt disease.

This project, if a success, will reduce the losses of small-scale farmers strongly relying on enset as a staple food. It would distribute the necessary resources and infrastructure to farmers to plant this new, bacterial-resistant enset. Thanks to dedication and scientific advancements, a project such as this one will help contribute to food security in Ethiopia.

– Caysi Simpson

Photo: Flickr

Food Insecurity in America and World’s Poorest Countries Has Common SolutionThe United Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on December 10, 1948 as a minimum standard of treatment and quality of life for all people in all nations. Article 25, section 1 of the declaration states, “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food…” As important as these words are, they have not yet become a reality for many people in the world. Some common solutions to food insecurity may help alleviate world hunger.

Falling Short of the U.N. Standards

Often, countries represented in the U.N. fall short on the promise to provide adequate, nutritious food to everyone, including the United States of America. Malnutrition and food insecurities can be attributed to many causes worldwide: political turmoil, environmental struggles and calamities, lack of financial resources and lack of infrastructure to distribute food equally within a country.

It is widely known that the poorest nations often lack the means or the will to sufficiently supply food to the people and their most vulnerable populations. Ethnic minority groups, women and children and those living in rural areas often suffer the most. In 2006, the Center for Disease Control reported that widespread media attention in 2005 brought global awareness to a food crisis in the West African country of Niger. According to the report, out of Niger’s population of 11.5 million in 2002, 2.5 million people living in farming or grazing areas were vulnerable to food insecurities.

Identifying the Problem in Food Distribution

In her article entitled Food Distribution in America, Monica Johnson writes, “With each step added between the farm and the consumer, money is taken away from the farmer. Typically, farmers are paid 20 cents on the dollar. So even if the small-scale/medium-sized farmer is able to work with big food distributors, they are typically not paid enough to survive.” Essentially, the middlemen are taking profit directly out of the farmer’s hands.

In America, conventional food supply chains are used in the mass distribution of food. This method starts with produced raw goods. These products are transferred to distribution centers that may offload goods to wholesalers or sell them directly to food retailers where these goods are finally purchased by consumers at grocery stores and markets. Food may travel very long distances throughout this process to be consumed by people who could have purchased comparable foods grown much closer to home.

One example is the Hunts Point Food Distribution Center (HPFDC), which is one of the largest food distributors in the United States, with over $2 billion in annual sales. According to the New York Economic Development Commission, it sits on 329 acres of land in the Bronx, New York. It supplies over 50 percent of the food consumed by people in the area and also supplies its goods to about 20 percent of people in the region. Yet, still, the Food Bank of New York City reported a meal gap of 242 million in 2014 and food insecurity levels of 22.3 percent, with 399,000 of those people being children.

Solutions Lie in Local Support

About 13 years after the Niger food crisis, the country is still one of the poorest in the world. The World Food Program (WFP), headquartered in Rome, Italy, continues to focus on fixing the problem of food insecurity in nations like Niger. Through helping those like Nigeriens build sustainable livelihoods and ecosystems for crop cultivation, the WFP hopes to lower the high levels of food insecurities and issues related to them, such as malnutrition and the high mortality rate among children under the age of five.

One essential component in the common solutions to food insecurity is assisting locals with the sustainable management of local natural resources through soil conservation, water harvesting, rehabilitating irrigation systems and reducing the loss of biodiversity. This is directed toward localized measures to solve food deficiency issues.

The same steps need to happen in America. The HPFDC in New York, in an effort led by Mayor Bill de Blasio, is planning to upgrade facilities and operations. A plan that includes working with other food distributors at the state level to increase integration with upstate and regional food distribution, supporting local farms and providing growth opportunities for emerging regional food distribution models.

These common solutions to food insecurity could help feed millions of people around the world. Reducing the middlemen in food distribution will put more money back into the hands of the farmers. Additionally, by reinforcing sustainable farming at local levels, farmers will have more opportunities to provide relief from food insecurity in their own communities with more nutritional diversity, which can reduce malnutrition and high mortality rates.

Matrinna Woods

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in South AmericaThe regions of Central and South America, in addition to the Caribbean Islands, collectively comprise what is currently recognized as Latin America, which is home to a growing population of roughly 637.6 million inhabitants. Of the three, the twelve nations of South America comprise the majority, or about 66 percent of that population. Despite all of these countries having experienced economic turmoil, political instability and social injustices, as a whole, the issue of hunger in South America does appear to be improving.

Since 1991, hunger in South America has seen significant declines. The largest of these has been Bolivia, which had 38 percent of its population without sufficient access to food in 1991. As of 2015, it had managed to reduce this number to 15.9 percent. Other countries have also made significant strides, such as Peru, which reduced its percentage of hunger from 31.6 in 1991 to 7.5 percent in 2015.

The basis for these accomplishments was established after Latin America adopted a U.N. Millennium Development Goal in 2000. The goal was to cut hunger in half in South America and its other regions by 2015, according to a State of Food Insecurity in the World report released by the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation. The region fortunately accomplished this goal, and while South America still has the largest proportion of undernourished people to its population, it was able to do this at a quicker and more effective rate than Central America or the Caribbean Islands.

One reason it was likely able to do this is that a handful of countries in South America are major agricultural producers and exporters. Brazil, for example, uses 31 percent of its land for crops; the country mainly grows sugarcane, but they also are dominant producers of coffee, bananas, mangoes, coconuts, papayas and oranges. Additionally, they rank second behind the U.S. in terms of total beef production. Similarly, Argentina is also a large beef producer, and Ecuador is a dominant producer of bananas.

In fact, due to its current production levels and untapped resources, economists and agricultural experts have speculated that Latin American countries will have a decisive role to play in the coming decades when it comes to global food production, something that could certainly play to their advantage. As of 2015, Latin American food imports accounted for a mere four percent of food imports worldwide. In contrast, their food exports accounted for 16 percent of food exports worldwide.

However, there are still tens of millions of people experiencing hunger in South America today. The existence of such a problem reflects that South America’s issue is not that it lacks sufficient food resources, but that it lacks adequate methods of distributing and allowing access to these resources. This is typically reflective of a larger, systemic problem of inequality. However, if resolved, it could improve the continent’s ability to produce and distribute these resources at a rate that would allow its countries to not only be dominant economic players in the international community, but also to take care of their own citizens simultaneously.

In a world whose population is estimated to reach nine billion by 2050, and whose food demands are expected to be 60 percent higher than they are today, it is critical that Latin America, and more importantly South American governments, establish economic reform that would allow for more equal food distribution. By doing so, they could then benefit from and play a major role in assisting future food shortages across the globe.

– Hunter Mcferrin

Photo: Flickr


The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), of the U.N. is dedicated to providing food security for all. The organization has three main goals found on it’s website that guide its initiatives and strategies: “the eradication of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition; the elimination of poverty and the driving forward of economic and social progress for all; and, the sustainable management and utilization of natural resources, including land, water, air, climate and genetic resources for the benefit of present and future generations.”

Here are 10 facts about the FAO that you should know:

  1. Talks about the organization first began in 1943 in Hot Springs, Virginia, where various governments were committed to the creation of an organization solely dedicated to food and agriculture. It was not until 1945 that the FAO became a specialized U.N. branch. It is the oldest indefinite specialized agency of the U.N.
  2. The organization is comprised of 194 Member Nations, two associate members and one member organization, which is the European Union. The organization is currently present in more than 130 countries.
  3. To help eliminate hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition, the FAO supports policies and political commitments focused on promoting food security and good nutrition while keeping information on issues like hunger and malnutrition problems and solutions up-to-date and easily accessible.
  4. To reduce rural poverty, the FAO helps smallholders increase farm productivity, find employment off of the farm and assist communities in finding ways to manage high-risk issues prone to their environment.
  5. The FAO partners with member countries’ governments to devise agricultural policy, support planning, draft effective legislation and create national strategies.
  6. The organization responds to crisis situations by partnering with humanitarian agencies, such as the World Food Programme, to protect people’s livelihoods and help them rebuild their lives.
  7. Just recently, the FAO has reached a milestone in its Famine Prevention and Drought Response Plan by treating more than 12 million animals with diseases whose meat and milk are consumed by hundreds of thousands of families in Somalia. Animals are also a source of livelihood for many of these families.
  8. The organization provides a platform where rich and poor nations can come together to fight global issues that affect everyone. Experts from around the globe come together at FAO headquarters in Rome, Italy on a regular basis to fashion agreements on major food and agriculture issues.
  9. The World Bank and FAO have recently decided to strengthen their partnership to incorporate more cooperation in hopes of making the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development even more attainable. The signed agreement includes providing the FAO with technical expertise to assist governments in projects funded by the World Bank.
  10. FAO is 39 percent funded by the contributions of member countries and 61 percent funded by voluntary contributions made by various partners.

The FAO is an especially important organization for the world’s poor because it prioritizes those who are deprived of the basic human rights of food and water while mobilizing the world’s nations to work together.

Emily Arnold

Photo: Flickr

Reducing Food Loss
A simple invention aims to revolutionize the preservation of perishable goods, thereby reducing food loss.

The invention in question is known as FreshPaper, a small sheet of biodegradable material infused with a special mixture of botanical extracts that claims to preserve food freshness. Its inventor? Then 16-year-old Kavita Shukla, who was inspired to tackle the problem of food waste in a unique way.

It began with Shukla trying her grandmother’s home remedy for an upset stomach: a mixture of plant extracts, botanicals and spices. Upon the remedy’s success, Shukla was inspired to test it further, thus discovering its antimicrobial properties.

Several years of research later, she was able to receive a patent for the mixture, now known as Fenugreen. At 27, Shukla joined forces with a friend to launch the product in Cambridge.

Food waste is a big problem. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the U.N., one-third of food produced for human consumption worldwide is wasted annually. This waste typically happens at the consumer end of the production process. “Food loss” occurs earlier on during production, post-harvest and processing.

Developing countries in particular struggle with food loss, since they often lack the industrialization necessary to preserve food long enough to reach consumers. The National Geographic states that India loses up to 40 percent of its fruits and vegetables in this manner.

There is no one solution to food waste or loss. Instead, it is important to take action at multiple steps in the food making process. In developing countries, aid organizations are providing for better storage facilities for farmers, preventing them from losing excessive amounts of crops during transit.

Since 1997, the FAO has donated metal silos to more than 15 countries by training local craftsmen in their construction, use and delivery to farmers. In one study, 96 percent of the beneficiary farmers in Bolivia responded that the silos in question improved food security by reducing the amount of food lost post-harvest and maintaining grain quality.

Shukla is currently working to make FreshPaper available to food-banks and to farmers in developing countries. She hopes that her invention can have a big impact in reducing food loss.

Sabrina Santos
Photo: Flickr

hunger in Brazil

Every day, 66 million people face hunger in Brazil, yet the country annually wastes 15 million tons of food.

Thirty percent of agricultural products are never consumed. In response, many organizations have mobilized to help Brazil lose its infamous position as the third biggest food-wasting country, and provide relief to the 66 million suffering food insecurity.

Invisible Food Bill in São Paulo

Currently, food products in Brazil have unnecessarily short expiration dates, causing lots of good food to be thrown away. The Invisible Food Bill was proposed by Daniela Leite, Flávia Vendramin and Sergio Ignacio.

The Huffington Post explains the simple goal: “if implemented (the law) would require companies to donate food products that may have lost their commercial value, but are still suitable for consumption.” The trio hope to sell the donated items in a food truck and use the profits to raise awareness about food waste while the rest will go to charities to reduce hunger in Brazil.

U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Network

The FAO was concerned by Brazil’s high food waste, and they have been combating the problem with a network of both public and private organizations. An FAO committee specialist stated that the production chain and infrastructure are to blame. Improved agriculture, shipping and storage practices would lower the 30% agricultural waste. This would save money for producers and lower prices for consumers. Unfortunately, food donation in Brazil is difficult because donors are legally accountable for recipients’ potential illnesses. A “Good Samaritan Law” is currently making its way through the legal system which would protect donors. The U.N. hopes to upgrade the processes to save money for everyone and simplify food donation.

Olympic Leftovers Feeding Hungry People in Rio

Celebrity Chefs David Hertz and Massimo Bottura decided to put the leftovers from Olympic athlete’s meals to good use. The estimated 12 tons of food will be given to people in favelas, or low-income neighborhoods. Both chefs have experience with programs like this; Bottura founded an organization, Food for the Soul, that creates community projects similar to the Olympic program. While Hertz started Gastromotiva, which provides vocational and cooking training to empower low-income people. Volunteers have re-purposed a vacant store into a feeding station that will become a community center with cooking classes after the games. These temporary soup kitchens transformed what would have been waste to 100 hot meals a day.

These organizations are attempting to reroute food from landfills to people. Officials hope the combined effort of the U.N. and other organizations will improve agricultural production and encourage donations with bills like the Good Samaritan Law and Invisible Food Bill.

Jeanette I. Burke

 

Year of QuinoaYou’ve seen it in the grocery store, on TV and maybe in your pantry — the tiny grain known as quinoa. What you probably didn’t know is this grain, which is no bigger than a pinhead, has the power to conquer a huge challenge. Quinoa could put an end to global hunger, which is why the United Nations created the International Year of Quinoa in 2013.

Quinoa is known for its efficiency in health and cost. It has an outstanding nutritional profile, low production costs, adaptability to various climates and vast genetic diversity. The U.N. went as far as declaring quinoa one of the most promising and energizing crops to humanity, due to its ability to grow in poverty-stricken and harsh climate areas.

According to the U.N. News Center, quinoa can thrive in extreme temperatures, ranging from minus 8 degrees Celsius to 38 degrees Celsius. It is not impacted by moisture and it can grow at 4,000 meters above sea level.

Due to its extreme versatility, the General Assembly honored the crop by dedicating 2013 as the International Year of Quinoa. The U.N. believes the crop to be a viable option to alleviate world hunger.

The goal of the International Year of Quinoa was to raise awareness of the nutritional and economical value this crop offers. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon spoke highly of the year of quinoa as a kick-start to reaching global poverty reduction goals.

“I hope this International Year will be a catalyst for learning about the potential of quinoa for food and nutrition security, for reducing poverty- especially among the world’s small farmers — and for environmentally sustainable agriculture,” said Ki-moon.

The Keenwa Cause also launched an effort to fight against world hunger while supporting the development of quinoa as a sustainable crop — similar to what the International Year of Quinoa hopes to promote.

The organization sells quinoa krisps, sweet granola-like snacks made from the well-known crop. For every product they sell, eatKeenwa donates resources to the hunger initiative. Every day the organization and its customers are helping feed the hungry around the world.

Quinoa’s economic advantages are rooted deeper than surface-level versatility. The nutritional power the crop offers at such a low cost is the most compelling option for poor countries looking to boost their economies. The crop contributes to improved health and food security and can also boost broken and struggling economies around the world.

Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador are the leading producers of the quinoa crop. They produce more than half of the annual global total of 70,000 tons according to the Food and Agriculture Organization. The crops’ production is beginning to expand to areas of Kenya, India, North America and Europe.

Reducing world hunger by half is one of the global targets of many economically advantaged countries. According to Ban Ki-moon, if South American countries continue to increase their production of and access to foods like the superfood quinoa, this goal will soon be reached in large strides.

Katie Grovatt

Photo: Flickr