The second in our series as we look at food justice issues in the run up to Food Festival & Harvest
What is food justice? According to Oxfam’s Grow campaign: “It’s possible to feed everyone on the planet, but many go hungry because the food system is broken. We are campaigning to ensure that, in a world where there’s enough food to go around, no-one has to go to bed hungry.” A whole host of factors such as climate change, land grabs, food price spikes and intensive farming are stopping nearly 900 million – that’s 1 in 8 people – worldwide from having enough to eat.
Finding space to grow food in poor countries has always been an issue, but now the situation is getting out of control. Land used by poor families to grow crops is being sold to wealthy companies or foreign governments looking for cheap agricultural space. These families are often evicted without their consent, with little or no warning and no compensation. It’s time to get land grabs under control. Oxfam is calling for tighter regulation of how land is bought and sold, that protects the rights of poor people while encouraging positive investment to fight poverty.
As temperatures rise, crop yields will fall—to as much as half their current levels in some African countries according to some predictions. At the same time, extreme weather events like heat waves, droughts and floods are getting more frequent and severe, and the seasons that people rely on to grow crops are getting even more unpredictable. Oxfam and Christian Aid are keeping the pressure on rich countries to make vital progress on reducing their carbon emissions and support people living in poverty to protect themselves from the devastating effects of climate change. The world’s governments have dragged their feet for too long. It’s time to start dealing with a situation that’s only going to get more urgent.
Food price spikes
After decades of progress, the number of people without enough to eat is actually increasing, and food price spikes are a big part of the problem. That’s because, when you spend up to 75% of your weekly income on food—as many poor families are forced to do—sudden rises have an especially destructive effect. Price spikes have many causes—the changing climate, oil prices, dysfunctional commodities markets, biofuels policies that mean crops end up in cars and not on plates—but what’s clear is that we are facing a whole new challenge. Oxfam is calling on governments to work together to deal with food price crises effectively and to tackle the problems that mean millions of people can’t afford enough to eat. Intensive farming Following a century of increases, crop fields are flatlining— because intensive farming can only go so far. It’s time to focus on the huge untapped potential of small-scale farmers in developing countries— especially on women, who often do most of the work for little reward. Already, 500 million small farms help to put food on the plates of two billion people—or one in three people on earth. With effective government support and a focus on sustainable techniques, productivity could soar. In Vietnam, for instance, the number of hungry people has halved in just 12 years—a transformation kick-started by government investment in small farmers. It’s time to change the way the world thinks about growing food.
St Mary’s Priory site will again host part of the Abergavenny Food Festival from September 17 – 18. We will also host a Food Justice Seminar in the Church on Friday, September 16 ; and be looking at food justice in the Priory Church and Abbot’s Garden all over the Food Festival weekend.