Trophies and certificates of appreciation were yesterday presented to students from various schools across the country to recognise their participation in a recent competition to mark their support towards efforts at reducing hunger on a global scale.
Receiving Trophies for the three top placements in the competition were Juanita Deygoo of Winfer Gardens Primary, Mellissa King of North Ruimveldt Secondary and Debra Persaud of Woodley Path Primary.
The presentations were done at a simple ceremony at the National Centre for Educational Resource Development (NCERD).
The trophies were presented by Minister of Education, Shaik Baksh, who revealed that the education response to the hunger situation has been relatively serious. In this regard he said that the Ministry has implemented a school feeding programme countrywide in recognition of the fact that some children are yet attending school hungry.
Also addressing an audience of mainly students yesterday Agriculture Specialist, Johan David, commended the participation of the schools even as she acknowledged that their involvement in the competition could not have been an easy task.
“Your motivation I hope was not merely based on the urge to win. It is my sincere hope that in undertaking this task it was with the recognition of the fact that there are a billion malnourished people in the world.”
Reflecting on the origin of the competition yesterday, Representative of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Dr Lystra Fletcher-Paul, said that in 2009, the number of hungry people in the world had reached an historic high of one billion.
And many reasons were offered for the increase in hunger, according to her. One of the main reasons is that there is a global financial crisis which resulted in lower income and increased unemployment.
“In other words fewer people had jobs so they had less money to buy food. This is a tragic situation indeed.” And in order to draw attention of the world to this tragedy, the Director General of the FAO launched the One Billion Hungry project.
This project, according to Dr Fletcher-Paul is an online petition for people all over the world to show not only that they are not happy but they are upset, angry and outraged that there are so many hungry people in the world. Through online social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, the project sought to reach out to people globally to sign an anti-hunger petition at www.onebillion.hungry.org.
Persons who did not have access to computers were able to sign petitions that were distributed to a number of schools, offices and organisations throughout the world.
In Guyana, the One Billion Hungry Project was launched in July this year and a modest target of 5,000 signatures was identified.
“At first we didn’t think we would reach the target because the response was very slow. But the Bible says a little child shall lead you and that is exactly what happened,” Dr Fletcher revealed.
A decision was made to introduce a competition in the schools to see who could acquire the most signatures and this move she said had a “snowball effect. The young people literally took the ball and ran with it.”
With such enthusiasm, it was not a surprise that to date over 6,000 signatures have been received, with the vast majority coming from the schools, Dr Fletcher-Paul disclosed. However, she asserted yesterday that the fight against hunger does not end with the acquisition of the petitions but noted that this move is merely a first step to raise awareness of the seriousness of the problem. The next step, she said, is to do something about it.
By the year 2050, the world’s population is expected to reach nine billion people and to be able to feed all these people food production will have to increase by 70 percent, Dr Fletcher-Paul explained. However, with land scarcity, farmers will not be able to expand their farms but rather will have to stride to get greater yields out of the land already under cultivation.
And the responsibility is not only with the farmers, but the petition, according to her, is meant to show that the fight against hunger is everybody’s responsibility.
“You can plant vegetables in pots, in containers, in your backyards, in your school gardens, we must all unite in our fight against hunger…”
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