Almost 900 million people today are chronically hungry. They will be just as hungry tomorrow. Most are women and children though many small scale farmers are also hungry. The current broad approaches to global hunger and malnutrition are clearly not working – the numbers are increasing daily. These same people are also chronically malnourished due to a lack of essential micronutrients, particularly iron, vitamin A, folate, zinc and iodine. Typical (well advertised) solutions currently being used tend to create dependence rather than self-reliance.
Front line agriculturalists are again focussing on the forgotten and local food plants of the world. These can deliver the benefits of healthy diets, resilient food systems, lower food prices and great availability of food, particularly to those in need. In other words there is a solution that is local and sustainable.
“Food Plant Solutions” is based on an enviable and huge data-base created by Tasmanian agricultural scientist, Bruce French and made freely available to the world-wide organisation of volunteers, Rotary International. The data-base contains comprehensive information on at least 27,000 edible plants for all countries of the world. Food plants that are well adapted and thrive in a particular region or country and contain the highest levels of key nutrients can be readily identified from the data-base. A global group of economists at the Copenhagen Consensus Centre supported the United Nations and others who maintain that the most cost-effective way to use the ‘development’ dollar is by reducing malnutrition.
Two former Vice-Presidents of the Royal Society of Tasmania, Ian Geard and Dr John Thorne, will illustrate how the ready union of knowledge from the Tasmanian data-base combined with a variety of global volunteers is making a difference in at least 28 countries where hunger and malnutrition is a challenge. “Food Plant Solutions” enhances the ability of local groups to make a difference.
Ian Geard was a senior agricultural scientist in Tasmania including his role as Chief Quarantine Officer. He has been engaged by the United Nations Development Program, the FAO/World Bank, the European Union and the Australian Assistance Bureau to visit and advise on a wide variety of food and plant programs, mainly in Asia. Dr John Thorne is the only Tasmanian to have served on the International Board for Rotary – a global volunteer service organisation with 1.2 million active members in about 200 regions or countries. He is the Foundation Chairman of the Rotarian Action Group – Food Plant Solutions. Ian and John recently visited China together to cement relations with a charitable Foundation giving access to the 100 million ethnic minorities there who are seriously challenged with malnutrition and often with hunger. The group also has clear access to help the hungry in the DPRK (North Korea).
Royal Society Room,
Customs House Building, TMAG,
19 Davey St. Hobart (entry from Dunn Place) 8.00 pm
• All interested people welcome
• Admission is free