A press conference was held in Budapest on Thursday to mark World Food Day, with representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture, the FAO and non-governmental organisations.

Thanks to a Hungarian initiative, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has been holding World Food Day since 1981, as also noted at a press conference held today to mark the event by the Ministry of Agriculture’s Deputy State Secretary for Agricultural Economy Zsolt Feldman, who indicated that this year the FAO has placed family farming at the centre of its operations, and accordingly the organisation has been handling matters related to family farming as priority issues.

FAO Regional Representative for Europe and Central Asia Vladimir Rakhmanin emphasised that family farms are important to the world’s food supply, and especially in developing countries, but they are also of grat significance in other regions. This is why the FAO declared 2014 the Year of Family Farming. Deputy State Secretary Feldman stressed that according to government policy, providing the most efficient possible support to family farms is also very important in Hungary. Accordingly, the Hungarian Ministry of Agriculture held a global forum and exhibition on family farming this year.

There are some 19 thousand registered family farms in Hungary, but according to Mr. Feldman individual farmers who produce for the market in addition to their own needs should be added to this figure, in which case the number of family farms in Hungary is in fact almost 480 thousand.

A food bank convoy has left Budapest to provide help to those in need, President of the Hungarian Food Bank Association Balázs Cseh said at a press conference. This is the 9th year that the Hungarian Food Bank and the FAO have jointly launched a convoy of food donations on 16 October to mark World Food Day to increase awareness of the fight against hunger.

According to figures from Eurostat, a quarter of the Hungarian populace suffer from so-called quality starvation, meaning they cannot afford to regularly consume meat or an equivalent protein content food. At the same time, however, according to estimates some 1.8 million tons of food are wasted in Hungary each year, of which some 400,000 tons are thrown away by households. The goal of the Hungarian Food Bank ensure that the greatest possible quantities of dry foodstuffs that are nearing their sell-by date, and of good quality and consumable foods that are aesthetically damaged, reach those in need.

The convoy is transporting 50 tons of food valued at some 40 million forints (EUR 130,000) donated by 18 enterprises. This will provide assistance to some 10 thousand people according to the President of the association.

The food convoy may be an annual initiative, but the work of the Hungarian Food Bank Association is continuous: this year the Association will send some 2000 tons of food valued at 1.2 billion forints to people in need through charity organisations, which will mean help for some 300 thousand people. Vladimir Rakhmanin told Hungarian news agency MTI that some 800 million people are starving globally, but their numbers were around 100 million more ten years ago.

This means that the number of starving people in the world is increasing, though perhaps not at the rate that the FAO would like, the FAO representative stressed, adding that for people to have access to the food that they need requires governments throughout the world to develop food production, strengthen the social net, assure that people have the required financial instruments to purchase food and increase opportunities to gain increased knowledge within this field.