Sadly, folks, I have to break it to you that it’s not actually World Spud Day (epic and all as such a thing would be).

What I can tell you, however, is that today is World Food Day, a day for focusing attention on the sombre matter of people not having enough to eat. Not the cheeriest of topics, I’ll grant you, but not one to be ignored easily either.

Now, would that I could blithely say that spuds were the answer to world hunger but, even though you can feed more people more easily from an acre of potatoes than you can, say, from an acre of wheat, and historically, potatoes have been a great sustainer of the poor, the issues surrounding global food insecurity are damnably complex.

The core of the problem can be stated plainly enough, however. For all sorts of reasons, from increasing oil prices to climate change, food prices have been on the rise and people are spending more and more of their incomes on simply trying to feed themselves. The Global Hunger Index (see the interactive map below, from the International Food Policy Research Institute) identifies the areas where the hunger levels are most severe, many of them in sub-Saharan Africa.

While the issues may be many and difficult, however, that’s not to say that the potato, one of the world’s major staple food crops, doesn’t have a role to play. The UN International Year of the Potato in 2008 was all about spotlighting the role that the potato can play in providing food security and eradicating poverty. Perhaps regarding today as World Spud Day wouldn’t be such an outrageous notion after all.