By Neilan D’Souza
How is it possible that today’s modern world still struggles to successfully practice and implement one of the oldest occupations ever known to humankind – Agriculture. And at the same time we are able to easily ignore the fact that it is also responsible for the highest number of deaths in the world – Hunger. No disease/disaster what so ever has come close to claim lives in such figures. No this not another variant of any virus but a mere consequence of a human developed economic system – Capitalism.
According to UN, each day, 25,000 people (around 9 million people every year), including more than 10,000 children, die from hunger and related causes. Some 854 million people worldwide are estimated to be undernourished, and high food prices may drive another 100 million into poverty and hunger. Hunger and under-nutrition are the greatest threats to public health, killing more people than HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. And this is not because the world is not able to produce enough food to feed 7.5 billion people but it is simply because most of the food is wasted or not consumed on time.
1.5 billion tons of food is wasted every year, we clearly do not have a problem of supply and demand what we have is a problem of production and distribution. Food insecurity is not a natural result of population growth but a man made crisis caused by a failing inhumane system as with many other basic human necessities under a capitalist system which regards food as a commodity which has to be traded in order to make a profit.
The more food we make and sell the more money there is to be made. And so under the disguise of creating a system which produces food for all we have developed a modern intensive farming method which aim to produce greater quantities to be sold, in contrast has brought down the quality of food and also caused immense environmental damage. It is only now in the recent decade that we have began to witness its catastrophic effects in our daily lives.
This vicious cycle of a capital lead economy has to go away because the new normal of Climate Change, Food Insecurity, Consumerism and Throw-away Culture simply cannot sustain the World anymore. An eye opening example is the present economic crisis which the common people in Sri Lanka are suffering from. The present government’s move to suddenly ban chemical fertilizers overnight led to drastic crop failure at the same time when the country was slowly reviving itself from the damages caused by the pandemic.
Today this has escalated the cost of food so much that most of the people in Sri Lanka can only afford one meal a day. It is impossible to imagine the struggle of a country where almost 30% of the population are engaged in agriculture but cannot afford even three meals a day.
Without food there is no life – and if the intention of food production is catered towards earning capital and not life we need to stop and undo such systems which requires involvement from each one of us. We all can begin from denying the popular throw-away culture, cutting down on consuming more food than we actually require and without neglect we must atleast share food with those who do not have or fall in short of.
If there is one thing that we Christians must learn from the teachings of the Bible is that from the Bible’s beginning all the way to the end, there’s a clear picture of God’s compassion for the poor. God is passionate about caring for the needs of the vulnerable, and also promises to champion their cause-even when the rest of the world neglects them.