by: Tish Harrison ’20

Dr. Daniel Gustafson started by saying that he never thought there’d be so much progress in the reduction of global hunger between 1977 when he first started working in Brazil and the present. He then launched into his report on national programs that have been successful in reducing hunger in the world. Between 1990 and 2015, he observed, the proportion of those suffering from hunger out of the world population fell from 24% to 12%.

It’s heartening to hear that programs geared toward reducing world hunger are succeeding and that incomes are rising so that more families can feed themselves. Skeptics often say that poverty will always remain a reality in the world regardless of people’s efforts to combat it. However, these are real statistics showing that, in at least one regard, we are succeeding in improving living standards for humanity.

We’ve learned that when governments make hunger programs a priority and get the support of the people behind these programs, real change can occur. Dr. Gustafson showed us ample evidence of this in governments around the world, providing special anecdotes from Bangladesh, India, Mexico, Brazil, Ghana and China.

Prof. Gustafson provided examples of national policies that have effectively addressed food insecurity

Dr. Gustafson has been working in the fields of rural development and agriculture for a long time. He’s seen better agricultural practices (advanced by scientists in the laboratory and experts in the field) lead to not only larger food yields to be consumed, but also greater income for farming families who put in the sweat and hours of labor. Toward the end of his presentation, he asked us to think about what more can be done now and in the future.

One thing we must do is keep up the pressure on world leaders to have world hunger on their agendas as they design their foreign policies and draw their national budgets. This has worked well in the past. We must keep these issues at the forefronts of their minds until 100% of the world’s population is nourished sustainably. Every person has the right to life and everyone must eat to live. After listening to Dr. Gustafson speak at the conference and hearing about our progress, I have great faith that the world can unite and eliminate hunger in the coming decades.