Panama made progress in the fight against hunger despite being hit hard by the covid-19 pandemic, while in other Central American countries this scourge has exploded and threatens to reach “brutal” figures.
This was what the Subregional Coordinator for Mesoamerica and Representative of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Panama and Costa Rica, the Brazilian Adoniram Sanches, told Efe, within the framework of the launch this Tuesday of a plan to the development of family farming as one of the avenues for post-pandemic economic recovery.
The United Nations official pointed out that Panama, a country of 4.28 million inhabitants that in 2020 saw its economy fall by 17.9% due to the pandemic, “made good progress in the last 20 years, falling from 21% in in 2000 for 7.5% in 2021 of people who suffer from hunger. “
“FAO has the mandate to deliver the hunger indicators country by country, there are 192 countries, and we reported in August that Panama has 7.5% of people in a condition of hunger, which is an achievement, since it was maintained ( thus) within the pandemic in a context in which in other countries of the region (this percentage) increased significantly, “he indicated.
Sanches appreciated that with all that effort of social programs promoted during the pandemic, such as the Solidarity Panama, Study without Hunger, and now Family Farming, among others, “in Panama at least the number of hungry people did not increase.”
CENTRAL AMERICA AND HUNGER
To illustrate the situation in the subregion, Sanches explained that until 2019 in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala “we had around 1 million 800 thousand people hungry”, but that adding the impact of the pandemic to that of hurricanes Eta and Iota ” the number shoots up to 6.8 million. “
And now in December, Sanches points out, this number “will reach almost 9 million people (suffering from hunger) … a skyrocketing, brutal number.”
According to data released by FAO last July, 8.7% of the population of Central America, some 15.2 million people, go hungry or have difficulties accessing the minimum amount of food.
Coupled with this, is the increase in overweight in childhood, with approximately 1 million children under 5 years of age with excess weight due to poor diet, something of which, as Sanches told Efe on Tuesday, Panama does not escapes because it is “72% of the population overweight.”
THE PANAMA INITIATIVES
The Ministry of Agricultural Development of Panama (MIDA), with the support of FAO, launched this Tuesday the National Policy for the Development of Family Farming in rural communities and indigenous regions.
This national program or plan seeks to contribute to the reduction of poverty and to guarantee food security, as well as access to consumer markets for producers in the family farming segment.
Sanches praised this initiative that, he said, seeks, through financing, to be able to generate self-employment so that this rural population continues to produce in their territories without emigrating to the capital.
He highlighted that currently “Panama has 37% of the population in rural areas, with 65% dedicated to family farming on their own.”
He explained that what is being talked about is a potential of 220,000 producers working in family farming, of which “there are between 150,000 to 160,000 who are expected to reach in two years with this policy.”
The FAO representative expressed that this effort in which Panama has been involved and which has already taken place in El Salvador, Guatemala and in particular in Chile, lies in “putting the focus and seat on this rural middle class, what we call the small and medium producer. “
“Waking up hungry is a very ugly thing … zero hunger, that’s what we want, to support the Government” of Panama in reaching that goal in 2030, he remarked.