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The High Food Price Challenge

The High Food Price Challenge

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Published by ACFUK
High food prices in 2007-2008 threatened the livelihoods and food security of billions of people worldwide for whom getting enough food to eat was already a daily struggle. All over the world, individuals, civil society groups, governments and international organisations took action to cope with the crisis triggered by skyrocketing food prices.

This report investigates whether these responses were appropriate and effective and whether high food prices have brought about any changes in food and agriculture policies. Whereas price volatility remains a threat for the world’s poor, the intention of this report is to draw key lessons from these responses in order to inform future policies and programmes.
High food prices in 2007-2008 threatened the livelihoods and food security of billions of people worldwide for whom getting enough food to eat was already a daily struggle. All over the world, individuals, civil society groups, governments and international organisations took action to cope with the crisis triggered by skyrocketing food prices.

This report investigates whether these responses were appropriate and effective and whether high food prices have brought about any changes in food and agriculture policies. Whereas price volatility remains a threat for the world’s poor, the intention of this report is to draw key lessons from these responses in order to inform future policies and programmes.

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Published by: ACFUK on Feb 01, 2011
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07/10/2013

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“The remit of nutrition tends to be narrowly defned, and
confned to three dimensions: reduction of micronutrient
defciencies, improvement of infants and young children
feeding practices and treatment of acute malnutrition.”

—Claire Chastre, 200962

The growing coverage of nutrition programmes is likely
to reduce child mortality as well as the incidence of
malnutrition related diseases. Thus, nutrition experts
advocate for scaling up nutrition interventions centred on
the “feeding” aspect. For instance, the Lancet Series in
2008 noted that “breastfeeding promotion, appropriate
complementary feeding, supplementation with vitamin A
and zinc, and appropriate management of severe acute
malnutrition showed the most promise for reducing
child deaths and future disease burden related to
undernutrition.”

However, this growth is constrained by a number of

factors, such as the cost of treatment and people’s limited

access to adequate health services in many developing

countries. Furthermore, this is seen as too narrow an

approach by others, who argue that the fght against child

malnutrition must be more comprehensive if it is to be

sustainable and successful. As put by a FAO staff member

in West Africa, “most of the research is on therapeutic

food, vitamin A, and other pills, while very little focus is

placed on the relationship of nutrition with livelihoods,

food production, or trade. Therapeutic products are

important but insuffcient to deal with malnutrition.”

Nutrition does not appear to guide agricultural policies

and programmes. yet agricultural diversifcation and

promotion of nutritious crops such as the orange-feshed

sweet potato, which provides important micronutrients

and vitamin A, have an untapped potential to reduce child

mortality and malnutrition.63

As observed by Chastre,

“nutrition objectives do not appear clearly or remain of

little ambition” in rural development strategies.64

Different factors tend to keep nutrition in the sole hands

of nutritionists. Policymakers and representatives from

social movements and farmer organizations may show

little interest in the feld of nutrition, which is sometimes

seen as an imported issue that intends to bring in imported

products and practices, and serves the interests of some

specialized agencies. On the other hand, specialized

international organizations tend to focus on the technical

aspects of prevention and treatment of malnutrition, and

give little attention to questions of inequitable distribution

of resources or inadequate agricultural policies.

While the lack of fnancial resources is often cited as a

reason for slow progress in reduction of malnutrition,

more attention could be given to using existing resources

more wisely in order to alleviate malnutrition. This could

mean, for instance, when programming rural development

and agricultural investment and services, giving priority

to areas and populations that may have a lower potential

in terms of economic growth but higher malnutrition

records. Therefore, the REACH initiative seems relevant

as it develops a more integrated approach to nutrition,

bringing together all of the relevant sectors and actors in

this feld.

The Oakland Institute

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