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World Food Day was celebrated in Dushanbe

On 22 October the UN FAO, WFP and SIFI organized an event in Serena hotel garden to celebrate World Food Day. The date is celebrated annually to raise public awareness of food safety issues around the world and to call for action to ensure healthy food for all.

The festival was organised under the slogan "Leave no one behind - better production, better nutrition, better environment, better life".

One of the main objectives of the event was to build on children's interest in the topic of healthy eating and sensible consumption in order to raise a generation that has responsible attitude towards our planet and its resources.

This year, the organisers emphasised the special role of the younger generation, who can build a better and more sustainable future. Young volunteers, entertainers and guests were engaged in the celebration. Every year on this day, schoolchildren in Tajikistan take part in themed activities and this year was no exception.

Volunteers and entertainers helped children learn, throughout the diverse programme, skills of leading a healthy lifestyle and following the principles of healthy eating. Complex topics were explained to children in a playful way.

Health Factory
At the festival, little guests were welcomed to an interactive children's play area created upon the concept: the entertainers of the “Health Factory” introduced children to the work of each "department". The children could prepare a healthy snack in the "Assembling Department", in the "Ingredients Department" played touch and feel guessing game and in the "Taste Settings Department" they guessed foods by tasting them with their eyes closed, sorted healthy and unhealthy foods in the "Sorting Department" and pulled out fruit and vegetables from an inflatable pool, playing grocery shopping in the "Purchasing Department".  All the activities corresponded to the healthy eating topic, and for completing each task, a child received a healthy prize in the form of a seasonal fruit.

Ten-year-old Nozia was delighted with the play area: "I really enjoyed it, I took part in several contests where I had to taste food, I guessed, it was a tomato and I guessed things in touch and feel guessing game".

Aliya is 11 years old, but she is not there just as a guest: "This is the second time I've taken part in this kind of event. During World Water Day, I gave a short speech and on World Food Day I will be singing. I've also got engaged in other activities, such as making myself a healthy tortilla. I liked that there are lots of fun competitions for children and interesting information for adults”.

Vohida was invited to this event by the FAO Office in Tajikistan: "I came with a friend and we brought our children to introduce them to the concept of World Food Day. We liked it very much. First of all, because it took place in a garden, the weather is so nice, the children are enjoying it so much, everything is colourful. They learn about healthy and unhealthy food. The children discover useful information. My little ones participated in touch and feel guessing game and guessed food by its taste, took part in a competition where they had to separate healthy and unhealthy food. They enjoyed it all”.

Kamola came with her son: "It was interesting for us, I was pleased that the children learned useful information about the principles of healthy eating. My son liked the play the most and, although he’s too young for that, took part in the quiz".

Welcome to Kitchenville
Both children and adults took part in an interactive play, which was aimed at raising children's awareness of healthy lifestyles in a playful way and motivate them to take care of their own health from an early age. This can be done by following good nutritional habits, among other things. The actors presented a laboratory which belonged to one of the characters, Dr Celery Stemson, a resident of Kitchenville, who introduced to the children his patient, the Villain Hamburger. By answering quiz questions, jumping and dancing, the children helped Hamburger get rid of his bad habits and cure his illness.

During the performance, games, experiments and interesting presentations, the characters covered the topics of digestion, balanced diet, limiting fatty and sugary foods, and the benefits of drinking water.

During 6 years organising activities for children
Suhrob Babadjanov, a SIFI representative in Tajikistan, points out that human nation is going through a difficult period of global challenges, including the ongoing pandemic, climate change, rising prices, which certainly affect food security. Therefore, it is important to convey the very idea of World Food Day to everyone. "Regarding this issue, one of the tools to tackle the problem is healthy eating, it has a positive sustainable impact on the development of society, which we decided to show to the children in a playful way.

Our institute has been involved in this event since 2016, organising the interactive section in particular, these are competitions, plays and workshops. In the workshops, children can participate together with adults. The plays promote healthy lifestyles and healthy eating among children.

The interactive feature in itself is very effective: children absorb new information like a sponge. When it is done through a game, we are building into the child's memory, bit by bit, what can and can't be done, what is useful and what is harmful. I think we should pay special attention to these kinds of activities, because they raise awareness not only among children, but also among adults. A healthy diet is the key to a healthy nation and a healthy future. When we say this, not just by repeating nice phrases from high tribunes, but by keeping it simple and accessible, everyone can understand what it is. Every year 150-200 people attend the event, about 60% of them are children and 40% are adults".

Statements by official guests
During the official part of the event Nosirzoda Jabbor, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture of Tajikistan, Khairzoda Shukrullo Kurbonali, the Deputy Minister of Education and Science of Tajikistan, Oleg Guchgeldiev, FAO Representative in Tajikistan, Arshiya Khan, the Head of the WFP Programme in Tajikistan and Orzu Rakhmonaliev, Representative of the National Nutrition Centre under the Ministry of Health and Social Protection delivered their speeches.

A representative from the Ministry of Education and Science of Tajikistan noted that a healthy diet is an essential requirement for national development and for improving the health of the population. Challenges related to healthy eating have a negative impact on the entire population. "School meals are seen as an effective tool to increase attendance in primary schools. Interventions to improve school feeding have proven effective in improving pupils' attention and learning capacity.

The Government of the Republic of Tajikistan has approved the Strategy for the Sustainable Development of School Feeding in Tajikistan for the period until 2027. It is currently being implemented in pilot schools in the country. Within the pilot project the allocated funds for school meals for 42 schools amounted to 5.5 million somoni for 2022. The existing documents include funding for school meals until 2030.

Participating in the World Food Day festival, I would like to sincerely thank our partners for their invaluable contribution to school feeding," said Khairzoda Shukrullo Kurbonali.

Oleg Guchgeldiev, FAO Representative in Tajikistan, highlighted in his speech: "Farmers in Tajikistan have recently faced many different challenges ranging from changes in the weather to the economic consequences of events that shook the world. We must not be distracted from the important task of ensuring food security and adequate nutrition for the country's most vulnerable people. FAO calls on international partners to consolidate efforts to transform agro-food systems and encourages to adopt the concept of 'No one left behind' as a guiding principle for agricultural reform and rural development in Tajikistan."

Speakers stressed the importance of healthy nutrition, which can transform lives and allow the country and its people to reach their full potential. "It depends on achieving food security and access to quality nutrition through coordinated activity of all stakeholders - government, private sector, civil society and collaborating partners," said Arshiya Khan, WFP Head of Programme in Tajikistan, - WFP calls for action to respond to the potential climate crisis in a timely manner. WFP is working closely with the Government of Tajikistan to help mountain communities cope with the impacts of climate change considering their income and food security".

The participants learned that in 2 years, the number of people suffering from severe food insecurity rose from 135 million to 193 million and 2022 is likely to be even worse. There are now 820 million people living in hunger, it is five times more than in 2020.

Conflicts, economic recession, climate crisis and environmental degradation are the main causes of global hunger. The consequences of COVID-19 have disrupted supply chains and limited people's ability to generate income.

To sum up
The festival brought together about 200 participants, including government representatives, ambassadors, international and local NGOs and civil society. World Food Day ended with a musical performance, a concert by the “Вraille band” composed by visually impaired lads and a delicious pilaf.

The event also included a photo exhibition and demonstrations of technologies in the agro-industrial sector: solutions in irrigation for remote regions, agricultural products, honey, eco-bags and much more.

Collective action in 150 countries is what makes World Food Day one of the most celebrated UN days on the UN calendar. Governments, the private sector, academia, youth, civil society and individuals must work together as a symbol of solidarity to make a priority the right of all people to have food, nutrition, peace and equality.

Everyone can work towards an inclusive and sustainable future by showing more empathy and kindness in their actions.