Access to healthy and sustainable food is still far from a given for all people. Worldwide, 735 million people suffer from hunger, or 10 percent of the world’s population. The reasons for this are the consequences of the Covid 19 pandemic, conflicts such as the war in Ukraine, and the increasingly frequent weather extremes.

Today’s World Food Day in particular brings the issue of climate into focus, because global warming is exacerbating hunger in the world. To ensure healthy nutrition in times of climate crisis, we have published the brochure “Agrobiodiversity on the Plate.” In an interview, Kavita Gandhi, head of the SWISSAID coordination office in India, explains why agrobiodiversity is particularly important in the context of climate change.

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The situation in India

Kavita Gandhi, what climate changes are being observed in India?

Kavita Gandhi: Heat waves, cyclones and floods: Extreme weather events are on the rise. In addition, summers are starting early with temperatures reaching 47 degrees, while rainy seasons are getting shorter.

Global warming is exacerbating the problem of hunger. What are the reasons for this?

Farming families depend on rain, soil fertility and biodiversity to produce enough and live well. But heat waves, droughts, water shortages and increasing natural disasters are threatening agriculture: the growing season is getting shorter and shorter, and the quantity and quality of harvests are getting lower and lower. Despite hard work, thousands of smallholder farmers around the world are struggling to feed themselves.

Indice de la faim dans le monde : la malnutrition augmente

What is the hunger situation in India, a country of 1.4 billion people?

Hunger and malnutrition are chronic problems. Despite the government’s efforts, this year India is ranked low on the scale of the World Hunger Index women and children lack vitamins and iron, and most suffer from anemia. In the communities where we work, the challenge is to ensure that people eat enough vegetables, pulses and a little meat.

What support does SWISSAID provide for the Indian population?

To strengthen the resilience of agriculture and thus food security in the face of increasingly numerous and unpredictable climatic threats, we promote access to resistant seeds adapted to the local climate. We also promote crop diversity by reintroducing neglected or forgotten varieties.

Furthermore, SWISSAID increases the capacity of local cooperatives to manage forests and ponds: this allows communities dependent on these ecosystems to reclaim their livelihoods and diversify their incomes. In addition, we try to work with farming families to find measures to adapt to climate change, such as preserving traditional seeds, protecting crops or introducing agro-ecological practices.

World Hunger Index: Malnutrition on the rise


Why does SWISSAID prefer the agroecology approach?

Because it is the key to adapting to climate change and fighting hunger: this approach is environmentally friendly, promotes soil and population health, and avoids the use of chemicals. Agroecology provides organic, local and seasonal food that is more diverse and of higher quality. It also preserves and promotes biodiversity.

To this end, SWISSAID has published a brochure entitled “Agrobiodiversity on the Plate“. Why is agrobiodiversity important?

Today, 75 percent of human food comes from just twelve plants and five animal species. In other words, our food system depends on very few varieties. A diverse diet is critical to our health and that of our planet. We see it: farms that combine crops, trees and animals prove more resilient to climate shocks and food insecurity.

About the brochure

Indice de la faim dans le monde 2023 : L'avenir de la jeune génération est menacé

What must the international community and Switzerland do to feed a growing world population under global warming conditions?

First of all, they urgently need to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions: Countries in the North are polluting the environment, while disadvantaged populations in the regions of the South are paying the highest price. The polluters of global warming must finance measures to adapt to climate change and share the knowledge about it. It is also essential that they change their eating habits to make them more climate-friendly.

World Hunger Index 2023: The future of the young generation is threatened


Successes of the Swiss Alliance against Hunger

On the occasion of World Food Day on October 16, the Swiss Alliance for Sustainable Nutrition Worldwide (Sufosec), of which SWISSAID is also a member, presented its first interim report. While hunger has again increased dramatically in recent years, the alliance of six Swiss international cooperation organizations has succeeded in noticeably improving food security in its program areas. The sustainable successes were achieved thanks to the promotion of agro-ecological methods in the areas, but also with the empowerment of local communities and women, as the key to more stable food systems.

About the Sufosec interim report (in German)