The 43rd World Food Day was celebrated with great momentum through a collaborative effort between the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Government of Nepal (GoN). This year's commemoration was marked by a series of impactful events, including a symbolic walkathon, a school-level art competition, an informative press conference, and a formal program.
Underlining the theme for the year 2023, "Water is food, water is life, leave no one behind," the FAO and GoN aimed to shed light on the intricate connection between water and food security, emphasizing the significance of efficient water resource management.
The event kicked off with a walkathon, where participants proudly displayed placards with strong messages that underlined the essence of water in ensuring both food and life. This colorful procession set the stage for the formal program that followed.
During the formal program, Honourable Dr Beduram Bhusal, Minister of Agriculture and Livestock Development, shared insights into the global challenges associated with achieving water security amidst the ongoing impacts of climate change. He stressed the urgent need to establish a new irrigation system, maintain existing canals, and actively engage local governments to enhance agricultural productivity in Nepal, addressing not only food security but also the livelihoods of countless farmers.
In a recorded video statement, FAO Director General DrQU Dongyu emphasized the necessity to transform global agrifood systems into more efficient, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable models. He highlighted the pressing issue of water scarcity as a global challenge requiring a unified response.
Dr.Jay Kant Raut, Member of the National Planning Commission (NPC), advocated for governmental intervention to address the issue of resource inequity. NPC is also prioritizing this in the upcoming 16th periodic plan. He implored the government to manage and regulate access to key agricultural resources, such as land, water, seeds, and more, with a specific focus on farmers, those who rely on agriculture for their livelihoods and sustenance.
Ken Shimizu, FAO Representative for Bhutan and Nepal, underscored the critical connection between agriculture, water, and the environment. He expressed deep concern over the challenges affecting water availability and reliability globally, with a specific focus on Nepal's irrigation systems that currently support only a fraction of the country's agricultural land, leading to significant productivity losses during dry seasons.
He highlighted the imperative of harnessing Nepal's water resources effectively and sustainably, emphasizing the need for a collaborative partnership between the Government of Nepal and relevant stakeholders to formulate strategies, strengthen policies, and boost the water resources sector in assuring food and nutrition security, agricultural and rural development, climate change mitigation, and achieving Sustainable Development Goals.
Rewati Raman Poudel, Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development (Livestock) emphasized the need for a shift in the agricultural productivity system. This transformation, he argued, should seamlessly integrate cultivation, production, and utilization for a more efficient and sustainable approach to agriculture, empowering and equipping farmers with essential resources to promote progress within the agriculture sector.
At the program, outstanding farmers from various domains and winners of a school-level art competition were honoured with cash prizes. This recognition ceremony not only celebrated their achievements but also served as a platform for them to express their gratitude towards the government, including FAO, for its support and encouragement.
This recognition went beyond individual achievements, extending its impact to promote inclusivity and sustainability by empowering women, indigenous communities, and marginalized smallholder farmers, who often encounter distinct challenges in agriculture. It serves as a catalyst for positive change, inspiring these farmers to continue their efforts and make a lasting impact on the agricultural community.