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World Food Program: Funding squeeze leaves 40% of Afghans food insecure

Lack of funding from the international community, increased instability and conflicts are some of the major causes for food inacessibility

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A malnourished Afghan child, weighing 14 pounds (6.4 kg) at 18 months of age, is treated by a US Army medical team member in Paktya, Afghanistan. Source: Wikimedia commons
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ISLAMABAD, September 2, 2016: The U.N. World Food Program (WFP) has warned that 40 percent of Afghanistan’s population, i.e. 11.3 million people, are food insecure, while more than 40 percent Afghani children under five years of age suffer from chronic malnutrition.

WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin issued the warning Friday at the conclusion of her four-day maiden visit to the war-ravaged country, the first by a WFP chief in 13 years, to “implore” the donor community to continue their support despite the squeeze on funding because of new global crises.

“This not the time for the international community to turn away from the needs of the people of Afghanistan,” she told reporters in Kabul.

While WFP has already reached almost two million of the most vulnerable Afghans with food and cash assistance, Cousin said, the organization needs $50 million in donor funding to reach another 1.6 million people through the end of this year.

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source: Wikipedia.org
source: Wikipedia.org

“It is the funding challenges and a turning away of the international community, or reduction in support by the international community for the activities here in Afghanistan, which will limit our ability to perform the work that is required,” Cousin said when asked what was the biggest concern for WFP’s Afghan mission.

She noted that the 3.6 million Afghans who the WFP is trying to help do not include thousands of refugee families who have returned or are in the process of returning home from neighboring Pakistan this year.

“Many of them come across with nothing, without the ability to meet the food assistance needs of their families,” said the WFP head, adding that her organization is working with other partners to meet the needs of returnees.

UN food delivery. Source: Wikipedia.org
UN food delivery. Source: Wikipedia.org

Cousin admitted that increased instability and conflict in some Afghan areas has forced WFP to suspend program operations periodically throughout the year.

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“The answer to terrorism and conflict is hope and opportunity provided by sustainable, durable economic opportunity and prosperity where every parent can access the food that they required to feed their children,” she said.

Afghanistan’s northern provinces are traditionally inaccessible for aid deliveries during winter months, and the spread of fighting to those areas in recent months has added to the challenges facing aid groups. (VOA)

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Farmers To Grow Modified Cotton With Its Seed Edible

Many of the world’s roughly 80 cotton-producing countries, especially in Asia and Africa, have populations that face malnutrition that could be addressed with the new plant

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Cotton
An experimental cotton plant is shown at a Texas A&M research facility in this handout image provided by the Texas A&M University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in College Station, Texas, U.S. VOA

U.S. regulators have cleared the way for farmers to grow a cotton plant genetically modified to make the cottonseed edible for people, a protein-packed potential new food source that could be especially useful in cotton-growing countries beset with malnutrition.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service on Tuesday lifted the regulatory prohibition on cultivation by farmers of the cotton plant, which was developed by Texas A&M University scientists. The plant’s cottonseed cannot be used as food for people or as animal feed yet in the United States because it lacks Food and Drug Administration approval.

Cotton
Cotton plant. pixabay

Cotton is widely grown around the world, with its fiber used to make textiles and the cottonseed used among other things to feed animals such as cattle and sheep that have multiple stomach chambers. Ordinary cottonseed is unfit for humans and many animals to eat because it contains high levels of gossypol, a toxic chemical.

With financial help from a cotton industry group, scientists led by Texas A&M AgriLife Research plant biotechnologist Keerti Rathore used so-called RNAi, or RNA interference, technology to “silence” a gene, virtually eliminating gossypol from the cottonseed. They left gossypol at natural levels in the rest of the plant because it guards against insects and disease.

“To me, personally, it tastes somewhat like chickpea and it could easily be used to make a tasty hummus,” Rathore said of gossypol-free cottonseed.

After cottonseed oil, which can be used for cooking, is extracted, the remaining high-protein meal from the new cotton plant can find many uses, Rathore said.

Cotton
If all of the cottonseed currently produced worldwide were used for human nutrition, it could meet the daily protein requirements of about 575 million people. Pixabay

It can be turned into flour for use in breads, tortillas and other baked goods and used in protein bars, while whole cottonseed kernels, roasted and salted, can be consumed as a snack or to create a peanut butter type of paste, Rathore added.

If all of the cottonseed currently produced worldwide were used for human nutrition, it could meet the daily protein requirements of about 575 million people, Rathore said.

Other countries would have to give regulatory approval for the new cotton plant to be grown, though U.S. regulatory action often is taken into consideration.

Also Read: Food Cooked on The Barbecue Can Impair Your Lungs

The new cottonseed’s biggest commercial use may be as feed for poultry, swine and farmed aquatic species like fish and shrimp, Rathore said.

Many of the world’s roughly 80 cotton-producing countries, especially in Asia and Africa, have populations that face malnutrition that could be addressed with the new plant, Rathore added. (VOA)