World Food Day, proclaimed by the Food and Agricultural Organization in 1979 to raise awareness of world hunger, is celebrated every year on the 16th of October.1 All over the world, events are organized to draw attention to specific issues surrounding world food production and distribution. Amidst the recent food price crisis, this year’s World Food Day will focus on the challenges climate change and bioenergy present for world food security.

The drastic increase in food prices severely hurt people living in poverty. The poorest people in the world roughly spend three quarters of their income on food, and higher food prices, alone, are estimated to push 100 million more people into absolute poverty.2 Climate change and increased demand for biofuels affect the availability of land, water and other natural resources; further contributing to rise in food prices.

Although small farmers seem to benefit from higher food prices, their success depends on their relative earnings. Change in temperatures and natural disasters, such as droughts and floods, as well as increased land and resource usage for biofuels limit the productivity of subsistence agriculture. As a result of low agricultural productivity, small farmers are forced to consume more than they produce, becoming subject to rising food prices.

Women, who, according to a FAO estimate, grow 80-90% of the food in Sub-Saharan Africa, are particularly vulnerable to climate change.3 As nutrition providers, women use agricultural biodiversity to produce food for their family. For sustainable living, most families depend on women, as opposed to men, who mostly produce commercial food.4 Therefore, the deterioration of the ecosystem, either through prioritization of biofuels or climate change, increases poverty among rural families.

More on food sovereignty, soon.