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May 2017
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UN Relations

UPF-Nigeria Secretary General's Statement on UN World Food Day 2014

Dr. Raphael Ogar Oko, Secretary General, UPF-Nigeria

We are an international and interreligious network of individuals and organizations dedicated to building a world of peace for all the world's peoples.

 

The Universal Peace Federation of Nigeria affirms the annual observation of the World Food Day on October 16 and commends the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization for taking the lead in initiating this special day and consistently promoting its observation since 1981.

World Food Day was first marked on October 16, 1981 and has been marked every year on October 16, the day on which the Food and Agriculture Organization was founded in 1945. The World Food Day is observed to bring serious attention to the issues of food for all and eradication of hunger. In many developing countries, a significant percentage of the population is living in hunger. According to the latest Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) statistics from 2013, “there are 842 million hungry people in the world and 98 percent of them are in developing countries.”

 

The theme for the World Food Day 2014 commemorated is “Family Farming: Feeding the world, caring for the earth.”

 

The Universal Peace Federation in Nigeria and her network of Ambassadors for Peace commemorated the day in recognition of the role that food plays in the lives of all people in the world. We are also delighted that the theme for the year focused on the family, which is the core school of love and cornerstone for world peace. We convened a special conference to create awareness of the significance of the World Food Day as well as the role of food in peace and sustainable development.

 

We noted with great concern the fact that hunger can retard our efforts toward peace, since a hungry person is an angry person and anger causes internal conflict which, if not managed well, may lead to external violence and even war. With this in mind, UPF-Nigeria convened a special assembly of stakeholders in the food production, distribution and consumption sectors to commemorate the day and launch a new initiative called the Food for Peace Initiative.

 

The launch of the Food for Peace Initiative brought together and introduced stakeholders, participants and Ambassadors for Peace to the following fundamental principles which we consider as essential in the realization of food for all and all for peace:

 

Universal Need for Food: Everyone without exception needs food to exist and survive, to relate with others and to develop and utilize the resources in the environment. Everyone has the right to food and despite the diversity of food, there are provided for the common goal of human continuous existence. Therefore, we need to ensure that everyone has access to food beginning from the family. We need to recognize the fact that even though food exists in diverse forms, they all serve the same purpose and can be traced to a common origin. For food to contribute to peace, we must recognize our common humanity under one Creator, thereby realizing that we are brothers and sisters and need to share the food we have with one another.

Food for Service: Food is essentially for internal spiritual satisfaction. Human beings eat food for health, beauty, goodness, long life, etc. The deepest meaning and purpose of food is found in the satisfaction of the inner person – happiness. Each person has an inner desire that transcends the outer food consumption. Human beings do not eat food just for the satisfaction of the body alone but for deeper inner satisfaction. The food that we eat is digested to serve all parts of the body without exception. As we understand this principle, we should eat food to serve others in our family, community, nation and the world. Food is enjoyed by people through the willingness to be sacrificed. If we sacrifice ourselves for the sake of others, we shall bring satisfaction to them too.

The Family as the Institution for Achieving Food for All and Food for Peace: Everyone without exception belongs to a family, and it is in the family that the idea of food for all can be achieved first. If the United Nations aspiration of food for all will be achieved, the family needs to be empowered to feed its members. The family is the primary center of food production, distribution and consumption. It is in the family that everyone without exception learns to consume, distribute/share and produce food. The first human food, the breast milk, comes from mother to child, and it is in the family that we grow in our food consumption, distribution and production. The basic personal and public food virtues are learned in the family. Since everyone without exception belongs to a family, it is the family that is best positioned to provide food for all. Since the family is the school of peace, it is in the family that food for peace can be realized. As we learn to eat and live in peace with our family members, we can grow with such attitude, knowledge and skills to eat food and live in peace with others. Therefore, family farming is very essential in achieving food for peace. It is important for every family to grow food and feed ts members (parents, children, sibling, spouses, etc). Let us devote our resources to family-building programs to achieve food for peace.

Value of Food: The highest value of food and standard of human utilization of food is to produce, distribute and consume “Food for the Sake of Others.” Through viewing food for the sake of others, we become other-centered rather than self-centered. The essence of food is to eat and live for the sake of others. Therefore, food exists to serve others and not just the self. One of the universal virtues of food is that food does not exist for itself but for the sake of others. Therefore, those who produce, distribute and consume food need to do so for the sake of others, which leads to self-sacrifice for the satisfaction of others. This virtue is essential for application to all aspects of life in our quest for achieving food for peace. Food attains its highest value when it is produced, distributed and consumed for the sake of others.

Mutual Cooperation and Partnership: To achieve the eradication of hunger and creation of access to food for all and for peace, there is the need for inter-sectoral policy and practical cooperation between food producers, distributors and consumers. Food can contribute toward living in peace by all only when all stakeholders work together toward sustainable food security. Stakeholders need to avoid fighting each other directly or indirectly and instead resolve differences through dialogue and reconciliation. Just as food is not created in isolation, policies and programs by stakeholders need to be interdependent in order for food to contribute to peace. Whenever there is an absence of an essential ingredient in a meal, it is easily noticed. In same manner, when one individual has not eaten food, all others need to recognize that someone is hungry and make efforts to provide for such. Unless, we create such an interdependent society, the aspiration toward food for all and food for peace cannot be realized

The Quality and Quantity of Food is Important in Achieving Food for Peace: As we strive toward food for peace, we must consider at all times the quality as well as quantity of food that is produced, distributed and consumed by people everywhere. Whether we are interested in spiritual, physical or social food, we must integrate quality and quantity. It is when people who consume food achieve internal satisfaction and external well-being can we hope to see food contributing to the realization of a peaceful world.

In conclusion, we are delighted to have mobilized stakeholders in Nigeria to commemorate the 2014 United Nations World Food Day as well as the launch of the Food for Peace Initiative. We are most hopeful that the theme of Family Farming: Feeding the world and caring for the earth, which resonates with our work to achieve peace through family building will help advance the aspirations of the United Nations and contribute toward the UPF Vision 2020. We encourage all our Ambassadors for Peace to make strong commitments to promote the idea of Food for Peace in their communities and bring to public attention the focus of the 2014 World Food Day theme. We remain hopeful that by the next World Food Day, we shall bring concrete accomplishments in creating access to food through working with strategic partners with thousands of farmers and with hotels and restaurants to provide donated food to the needy. We should remain committed to creating Peace Farms where food for peace can be produced and facilitate markets for supply of food to the needy people in our nation.