World Food Day 2012: Heifer International's Cooperatives Will Help Feed the World

View of a sugar cane sown field at the agro industrial complex Jesus Rabi on April 6, 2011, in Calimete, Matanzas province, C
View of a sugar cane sown field at the agro industrial complex Jesus Rabi on April 6, 2011, in Calimete, Matanzas province, Cuba. With the modernization of technology applied as an experimentation in this sugar refinery, Cuba is trying to increase the production in the area, traditionally important for the economy of the island and which has been in continuous decline for years. AFP PHOTO/ADALBERTO ROQUE (Photo credit should read ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images)

Our fragile and beautiful Earth is home to seven billion people. Right now, the global food system is struggling, one in eight people goes to sleep hungry, and according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), which declares October 16 World Food Day, "food prices still remain generally higher than last year and very volatile."

So now what? Do we wring our hands and hope someone else will provide the solution?

Absolutely not! We take action and become a part of the answer to ending hunger and poverty.

Today Heifer International joins the FAO and others in observance of World Food Day. This year, the theme "Agricultural Cooperatives -- key to feeding the world" highlights the efforts of smallholder farmers who have united to end hunger.

But it isn't just today that Heifer supports the world's farmers, cooperatives and rural organizations -- it is every day. We have always understood the critical importance of agriculture, and we have recognized that smallholder farmers are the best tools we have to help feed this hungry world.

There are 650 million smallholder farmers in the world, and according to the ETC Group, they produce 70 percent of the food eaten every day. By simply doubling their productivity, they can feed the world's vastly growing population.

So how do we support the efforts of the smallholder farmers to improve their own lives, advance their communities and begin to feed to the world?

Earlier this year, on the United Nations International Day of Cooperatives, we highlighted Heifer's work with cooperatives in Peru, Africa, Nepal and the Ukraine. Heifer is continually working to reach a rapidly growing group of smallholder farmers -- mostly women -- to inspire agroecological productivity, biodiversity, financial security and health to create the surplus needed to feed the world.

You also have a key role to play in feeding the world. Spread the message to family and friends, and join us in observance of World Food Day. But remember: hunger does not end when the day does. You can continue to play a role by getting involved in Heifer's work.