World Food Day 2020: 75 years of fighting hunger in Africa and across the world

News and Press Release
Originally published


An unprecedented year reminds us what we have accomplished – and still need to do.

16 OCTOBER 2020, Harare, Zimbabwe: If you are lucky to sit down to a balanced, nutritious meal today, take a moment to pause and reflect on the food heroes who made it happen. Food heroes are the farm and transport workers, shopkeepers and everyday people whose labour helped make this – and every meal – possible.

Every year, 150 countries around the world hold events and celebrations to mark World Food Day. This year’s World Food Day is no ordinary day: it marks 75 years since the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) was founded. In those years, the world and Southern Africa have made great strides in fighting poverty, hunger, and malnutrition.

Agricultural productivity and agri-food systems have come a long way. And yet, many people remain vulnerable, according to Patrice Talla, FAO Subregional Coordinator for Southern Africa: “Climate change is changing the way we eat and how we grow food in Africa. The pandemic has shown how fragile our food systems and the livelihoods of our ‘food heroes’, can be. We must work together to adapt. To support our food heroes, we must ensure we each do our part to eat – and live – sustainably, both as individuals and as part of societies.”

With the theme “Grow, nourish, sustain. Together. Our actions are our future”, World Food Day 2020 calls for more resilient and robust agri-food systems and global solidarity – both of which are vital to recovering from this crisis and building back better.

FAO in Southern Africa is working every day through policy support and direct programmes aimed to build more resilient agri-food systems. One example is the knowledge exchange and networking supporting strengthening the management and leadership capacities of the African small- and medium-sized agribusiness that FAO has supported online during COVID-19. Another example is our cross-region response to the African Migratory Locust outbreak in Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Zambia.

In Zimbabwe, one initiative, under the auspices of the Livelihoods and Food Security Programme (LFSP), aims to “climate-proof” Zimbabwean agriculture with a return to traditional sustainable practices called “Pfumvudza.” The approach has yielded higher returns for participants and is now being adopted throughout Zimbabwe.

“The Pfumvudza is just one initiative that, together with our partners, FAO is supporting to promote sustainable agriculture and innovation in the region. We support governments to design and implement responsive and sustainable policies. We help ensure agri-businesses are innovative and responsive. We support access to financing and training for women and youth. We work to ensure each of us does our part to buy sustainably and to not waste food. As individuals, and as an organization, we aim to grow, nourish and sustain together,” said Patrice Talla.

In Harare today, FAO, senior government officials, and partners hosted an online panel discussion on malnutrition and food security issues and the collective commitment to achieve zero hunger. The panelists, including UN Resident Coordinator Marta Ribeiro, and Haritatos Vangelis Peter, the Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement (MoLWARR) emphasized the need to enhance food systems, and together work towards improving the livelihoods, nutrition, and food security of the people of Zimbabwe. This includes the adoption of Climate Smart Agriculture (such as Pfumvudza) and making it easier for farmers to access equipment and technology.

“In this challenging year, World Food Day provides a moment for each of us to reflect on strengths and look ahead to how we might continue to grow, nourish, and sustain together – as individuals and as a society,” Patrice Talla added.

Jennifer Paton
Communications Specialist
FAO Subregional Office for Southern Africa email: jennifer.paton@fao.org @faosfsafrica

Donald Tafadzwa Chidoori Communications Specialist
FAO Zimbabwe Country Office email: Donald.chidoori@fao.org @faosfsafrica