Pope: Rural, family farmers growing food have little for themselves

Pope: Rural, family farmers growing food have little for themselves

Grain farmer Jim Niewold inspects corn plants on his farm in Loda, Ill., in this June 18, 2020, file photo. In a message to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization, Pope Francis criticized the fact that rural and family farmers who produce food are likely to suffer from a scarcity of food for themselves. (Credit: Nick Carey/Reuters via CNS.)

It is time to invest in ways that make food production and consumption more sustainable and resistant to future crises, Pope Francis said in a written message.

ROME — It is time to invest in ways that make food production and consumption more sustainable and resistant to future crises, Pope Francis said in a written message.

The world needs an economy that is “not just subject to profit but anchored in the common good, pro-ethics and respectful of the environment,” he wrote.

The message, published by the Vatican June 14, was addressed to Michal Kurtyka, Poland’s minister of climate and environment, who was presiding over the 42nd session of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization conference being held online and in Rome June 14-18. Among the many topics being discussed was transforming today’s agriculture food systems.

Pope Francis said agriculture must be diversified and sustainable, and it must keep in mind “the precious role family farms and rural communities” play in these systems.

It is a “paradox,” he said, that “those who produce food are the ones who suffer from a lack of or scarcity of food.”

He quoted studies that had found that three-quarters of the world’s hungry are living in rural areas and most of them depend on agriculture for their livelihood.

These people are denied ownership of land and have no access to markets, financial resources, infrastructure and technology, the pope said.

The food crisis worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic is offering a window of opportunity for changing the way food systems work, he said, underlining the need for a “circular economy” in which resources are available for everyone.

The pandemic should show people it is time to “change course” and invest in “a global food system that is able to resist future crises,” including those caused or worsened by conflict and climate change, he said.

The pope asked the FAO and the international community to do all they can to help people achieve food security and autonomy through new models of development and consumption and by protecting local ecosystems and biodiversity.

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