Hunger in Guyana has improved exponentially over the past decade as the number of people who suffer from hunger has been halved.

According to the U.N., Guyana is one of 38 countries that have met internationally established targets in the effort to eliminate hunger.

The country was recognized by the World Food Summit (WFS) for more than halving the absolute number of undernourished people between 1992 and 2012. The number reduced from more than 19 percent to just over five percent in that 20-year time span. The number lowered from 143,000 to 38,000 undernourished people.

Reflected in the WFS report are the implications of poverty, food insecurity and hunger in Guyana. Extreme poverty in Guyana has declined from 28.7 percent in 1993 to 18.6 percent in 2006. In order to reach the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals, that rate must have fallen by four percentage points by 2015.

The report raised concern not about the availability of food in the region, but rather the ability to make food widely accessible. Guyana has remote rural regions of underdeveloped communities to which it is difficult to distribute quality, nutritious meals. Raising agricultural productivity is the key in this regard because remote rural areas are largely dependent on their own crops and livestock.

Sixty percent of the country’s gross domestic product is represented by six exports: sugar, gold, bauxite, shrimp, timber and rice. Guyana was once a powerful producer of sugar, yet its production sunk to an all-time low in 2014. However, more recent crop production numbers have shown improvement.

To limit malnutrition, assuring the right food choices is important. In 2008, less than one percent of children under five suffered from extreme malnutrition. In addition, less than six percent experienced mild to moderate malnutrition.

The country’s minister of agriculture Leslie Ramsammy produced a food security report in July 2012. The report stated that an increasing population and the adverse of effects of climate change were the drivers of food insecurity. The U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recently established a National Disaster Risk Management (DRM) Plan for the agriculture sector.

Ramsammy noted that a high food import bill and high national debt were the two biggest threats. At that time, debt levels were at more than 45 percent of Guyanese Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The minister of agriculture concluded that Guyana must reaffirm its commitment to the science of crop management and agriculture practices.

Hunger in Guyana has improved greatly over the past 20 years. The country has resolved to work with international organizations to reach global goals to develop locally groundbreaking agriculture advancements.

Shaun Savarese

Photo: Flickr