International Youth Day 2021: Why we need to transform food systems

This International Youth Day, Youth Compact Champion Nancy Ongom sits down with climate activist Kabilla Jonathan to discuss food activism, youth leadership and transforming food systems.

Sometimes, being unaware about certain things sometimes makes meaningful change impossible even when we’re in the midst of a crisis. I, for one,  was very surprised to find out that tons of food is wasted globally and that over 800 million people suffer from hunger and undernourishment. These people could be fed by less than a quarter of the food lost or wasted in the US and Europe.

Food Waste in Uganda.

In Uganda, things are not much different. when it comes to food waste. Over 17% of the 2.8 million tons of maize produced in Uganda annually is lost or wasted during harvest or post handling services, and 12.4% of the 214,000 tons of millet is lost or wasted in Uganda annually. 

I am a lawyer and youth Activist who aspires to become a Human Rights defender and advocate. I do love food and worry about food at times but I would say I am no food Activist.

The United Nations Committee on World Food Security defines food security as “all people at all times having physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their food preferences and dietary needs for an active and healthy life”.

International Youth Day 2021.

This International Youth Day’s theme  “Transforming Food systems: Youth innovation for Human and Planetary Health” made me reflect on the kind of youth activist that I am, especially in regards to food security and sustainability. I realized that despite helping out on my family farm on several occasions, I haven’t been able to advocate for sustainability in the agricultural sector. 

To learn more and develop my passion for advocating further, I decided to talk to Kabilla Jonathan Obbo, a youth leader, climate activist and a fourth year university student pursuing Bachelor’s of food and Agribusiness.

Kabilla is a social media ambassador with Global Landscape Forum, a Earth Charter young leader with Earth Charter international. He is also a guild representative for Faculty of Agriculture and Environment, Gulu university and a minister for National and Foreign Affairs of the 19th students Guild Government.

What drives you to be a Food Activist?

Kabilla: The zeal to see everybody living a healthy and nutritious life pushes me to be a food activist. I believe that we all have the potential to produce enough quality food that can feed this world and ensure that we minimize food waste right from production to consumption.

What should be done to get more young people like myself to advocate for food security?

Kabilla: Young people are the pillars of agricultural production in Uganda and engaging them encourages them to participate not only in Agriculture but to become food activists and policy makers so the key is continuous engagement of young people.

There should be continuous engagement of young people via social media campaigns on nutrition. Young people living in urban settings should be taught and encouraged to practice home gardening. Lastly, nutrition education should be emphasized and practiced in rural communities.

Why do you think it’s important to engage young people in food activism?

Kabilla: I believe that it’s extremely important to engage young people in food activism. I believe the International Youth Day theme highlights this perfectly. Meaningful youth engagement in food systems is so critical and should not be taken for granted. 

It’s time to get together and do whatever it takes to fight food waste and champion sustainability. 

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International Youth Day 2021: Why we need to transform food systems

by Akello Nancy Ongom Reading time: 2 min