London, August 5 (ANI): Environmental campaigners say that trees can serve as a vital "famine food" to keep drought-hit communities alive when all other food crops fail.
According to a report by BBC News, Miranda Spitteler, chief executive of Tree Aid, said that food insecurity is a routine fact of life for many of the world's poorest people.
She said that the West needed to recognize the important role trees could play in reducing the need for conventional aid.
She also called for support for a local tree-based solution to food shortages.
In an article for the BBC News website's Green Room column, Spitteler added: "Conventional crops are often not native and require expensive inputs, significant irrigation and land preparation in order to produce a successful harvest."
"Trees, on the other hand, often survive when other crops fail," she said.
Trees provide fruits, nuts, seeds, leaves, flowers, sepals, even sap, which can be used as food.
The leaves of Moringa oleifera, which is cultivated across Africa, India and South America, for example, have more beta-carotene than carrots, more vitamin C than oranges and more calcium than milk.
Spitteler said that the fight against hunger, especially in drought-hit times, must target those at the epicentre of world poverty - smallholder farmers in rural Africa.
"They need support to adopt agro-forestry techniques, which boost soil fertility and provide tree food crops to supplement nutrition," she said.
According to Spitteler, "This approach can increase self-sufficiency for both rural communities and national economies. It can increase environmental security, diversify livelihood options and reduce the vulnerability of poor households to climate change and external shocks."
Global food production needs to double over the next 40 years if the world's population is to be fed, according to UN estimates.
Jacques Diouf, director-general of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said that the massive challenge will require a global effort.
"For the first time in human history, we have more than one billion hungry people in the world," he said.
"I am therefore happy that most of the leaders of the G8 have said that we need to focus on food production in poor countries and allow them to earn their income by producing food," he added. (ANI)