July 11, 2015
By Geoff Strong
Today’s session, titled “Where do we go from here”, was led by James Kornelsen, representing the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. James outlined the mission of CFGB, which is simply “a world without hunger”. He explained the goals and method by which the Foodgrains Bank operates. Farmers in the Canadian agricultural community assist by designating portions of their crop to CFGB, and ‘cashing out’ as the crop is sold on the Canadian market.
James also provided statistics on global hunger. For example, one out of nine people in the world still suffer from hunger, translating to almost 800 million people, mostly in Asia and Africa. The largest numbers of hungry people are in Asia, although Africa suffers more on a per capita basis. In terms of latitudinal areas, most hunger problems are in the tropics and sub-tropics, where approximately half the world’s population of seven billion resides. This presents a near-future dilemma, since the worst impacts of global warming, especially drought, are occurring also in the tropics and sub-tropics.
He emphasized that 80% of food in developing countries is produced by small-scale family farms, and that it is ironic that 70% of hungry people in the world are food producers, mainly because of degraded soils, lack of land tenure, lack of public investment, poor infrastructure, lack of access to agriculture inputs, insurance, and credit, and of course, climate change.
In response, the Foodgrains Bank has developed its “Good Soil” campaign, calling on the Canadian government to increase its international aid budget in general and its agricultural aid support to smallholder farmers specifically. James invited us to undertake a letter-writing exercise to encourage Canadian MPs to support these campaign calls and to encourage others in the communities to which they will return to do the same.
Finally, Sheilagh led us through a time of reflection and sharing about what had brought us to Sorrento, what we had learned in our time here, and what we were taking home with us as we prepared to take the learnings of the week of Sharing Bread into the wider world.
God, we give thanks for this centre of Sorrento and its beautiful grounds that we are enjoying. We are thankful for its staff, for the staff of PWRDF, for fantastic weather that we have experienced all week, for the opportunity to participate in this course on food security, ‘Sharing Bread’, and for our participating PWRDF volunteers. We acknowledge our good fortune to be living in this great country of Canada, with its clean air, clean water, and clean soils for adequate healthy food. Thank you God for all this, for we know that you are in control. We are also very mindful of the hundreds of millions of people on this planet who are not so fortunate, and we are aware of the huge imbalance between those of us who never go hungry for food, and those whom hunger is rarely satisfied.
We sometimes forget that this Earth, Your creation, is the only planet available to us. At the same time, we also realize that we have not taken good care of Your creation, that climate change, which we have caused, now threatens to widen the gulf of food security, especially in the tropics and sub-tropics where the ‘impacts’ of climate change have been greatest, and where PWRDF carries out the majority of its mission, as well as among the First Nations people in Canada.
Thank You God for the inspiration and understanding that we have received this week, and we ask for Your blessing on this group, and for safe journeys home in Canada and to Tanzania. Inspire us to go forth tomorrow with new resolve to take better care of Your creation, to find solutions to climate change, to help end the Earth’s food imbalance, and to establish true global food security and governance through the work of PWRDF and other NGOs. Help us with these problems, for we can be confident in our faith and in your power to assist us. We ask for all of this in Jesus’ name. Amen.