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Food Security Exists When All People

Food Security Exists When All People

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Published by Rizwan Khan

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Published by: Rizwan Khan on May 01, 2012
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“Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe

, and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.” (FAO 1996) Food safety and food security are intrinsically linked, not only to each other, but also to the safety and availability of water, the health of human populations, and market access. The Food and Water Safety research team suggests that poverty cannot be reduced and health and nutrition cannot be improved without concerted research efforts to improve policymakers’ understanding of: • the impact of the production and consumption of unsafe food and water on the livelihoods of the poor, • the role that food and water safety plays in food security, • the impact of food safety standards on poor populations’ access to markets, the institutional mechanisms (food safety certification, cooperatives, contract farming, etc.) that can effectively facilitate poor producers’ access to markets and to the benefits that come from the production of safe food, • the cost-effective control strategies that can minimize food and water safety risks, and • the most effective means of communicating information regarding both food and water safety risks and strategies to mitigate these risks.

Consumption of unsafe food and water continue to be one of the major causes of preventable malnutrition, disease, and death. The International Water Management Institute (IWMI) estimates that 3 to 3.5 million hectares of agricultural land in developing countries are being irrigated with raw or diluted wastewater (Scott et al., 2004). It has been widely documented that the use of untreated wastewater generates several health risks, such as intestinal parasites like worms, which affect farmers and their families; bacterial and viral infections, that might lead to cholera and typhoid epidemics, as well as cancer and congenital problems (ibid). The World Health Organization (WHO) reports an estimated 1.7 million deaths and 54.2 million disability adjusted life years (DALYs) lost worldwide per year due to unsafe water, lack of hygiene and insufficient sanitation (Jalan et al 2003). Food and water safety also have implications on livelihoods assets other than human capital, most notably on livestock. Consumption of unsafe food (e.g. mycotoxin contaminated maize) and water by livestock as well as various livestock diseases (e.g., avian flu, BSE) have been found to badly affect the livestock productivity and through it the livelihoods of the poor. The demand for food and water safety typically materializes at higher income levels. For example, Delgado (2005) suggests that not until consumers’ income increases to above US$10 a day that they begin to be able to afford to pay for certain food safety attributes. Since 1.4 billion people in the developing world (one in four) are living on less than US$1.25 a day (Ravallion and Chen, 2008), it may take the poor a long time to reach this turning point, especially if they are trapped in the vicious cycle of poverty. Even if incomes rise to this level, many developing country consumers are

Thus. higher standards may lead to reduced consumption of certain foods. At the same time poor producers and consumers are more vulnerable when food safety concerns translate into food safety standards. even if they are trained in the skills and offered credit. which if existed could motivate producers to implement food safety risk reducing practices. Proposed standards requiring pasteurization of milk in Kenya is one example (Kang’ethe 2005). What are the links between water quality and food safety and its linkages with health and nutrition outcomes? . adhering to which require the implementation of costly procedures that are generally not matched with commensurate price premium. or potable water contaminated with arsenic) and food safety. and food security and how these relationships can be influenced through appropriate institutional mechanisms and technologies The objective of this research is to understand the dynamic relationship between water quality (whether wastewater used for irrigation. (3) how to identify cost-effective technologies for reducing food safety risks. there are linkages of water consumed with health and nutrition outcomes. Poor producers may not have the skills or the financial resources to adopt prescriptive procedures. In many cases poor consumers cannot afford the higher prices associated with higher production costs to provide higher levels of food safety. (2) how to be recognized as producing safe food. implying that the net nutritional effect may be negative. First. Food and water safety and food security Area 1: To understand the dynamic relationship between food and water safety. just that there is a risk-risk trade-off between food safety and low-cost food supply for the poor that needs to be fully understood when policy decisions regarding food safety standards are being implemented.currently unaware of the health risks associated with unsafe food and water. there are linkages of water quality with food safety in terms of production and processing of food with wastewater or with water that is contaminated with pollutants. This is not to propose that standards always harm the poor. Third. IFPRI sees three linkages of water quality to food safety. which may work against small scale producers and small scale agents along the food supply chain. and (4) how to be competitive vis-a-vis larger producers. irrigation water polluted with industrial pollutants. there are linkages of water quality with inputs to food production such as chemicals (fertilizers and pesticides) and livelihoods assets such as soil quality. but also in the absence of a price premium for safer food. The costs associated with compliance of increased food safety standards can potentially exclude small scale producers who face four distinct problems: (1) how to produce safe food. Second. there are economies of scale for many food safety measures. Furthermore. Research questions 1. This lack of information results not only in the consumers’ lack of adoption of measures to minimize the health risks themselves.

. • There is an increasing awareness among consumers on the risks of adverse health effects associated with the use of poor quality water for irrigation and direct consumption. 3. identifying the hazard that may cause harm through pathways for poor quality water that may cause a food safety risk.2. drinking and cooking? What is preventing producers and consumers from adopting such control measures? Hypotheses The hypotheses to be tested in this research are: The baseline risk associated with using poor quality water (e. • If cost-effective solutions were adopted they would reduce foodborne diseases. malnutrition and poverty. current levels (quality and quantity) of water use are inefficient. they would be willing to pay higher prices for safer food which minimizes these risks. 4. What is the baseline risk associated with using poor quality or contaminated water or other types of inputs (pesticides. Next economic valuation methods will be used (i. • There are pro-poor cost-effective solutions to risk reduction. fertilizers and soil) which are known to have a potential risks for food production? 4. nutrition and other livelihood outcomes. such as lack of information and unrecognized demand for safe food and water. conducting quantitative risk assessments. health.. analyzing the cost-effectiveness of control measures for the poor. • As a result of market failures.g.. collecting data on the cost of control measures and analyzing the costs and benefits of the identified control measures.e. consumers’. • There are linkages between water quality. Research approach and methods that may be used • The risk analysis will involve the following activities: 1. 2. Do developing country consumers have significant demand for safe food and water? What are their current awareness levels regarding food and water safety risks? Would consumers be willing to pay a price premium for ensuring good quality and safe food and water? What are the best mechanisms for communication of these risks and strategies for their minimization? 3. Economic valuation methods can be employed to capture farmers’. wastewater or water contaminated with industrial pollutants) in production of food is high. non market valuation methods) to inform efficient and effective water management policies and plans. What are the pro-poor cost-effective control measures for reducing risks associated with using poor quality water for irrigation.

. In addition to reduced water supply. Projects to Date Water Quality Management in the Maipo River Basin Water resources that meet sufficient quality standards are necessary to sustain human. spatial.or public’s willingness to pay (WTP) for higher quality water. IFPRI has incorporated water quality impacts into integrated economic-hydro models to evaluate the impact of industrial and agricultural activities on water quality and farm incomes. deteriorating water quality is also becoming a major issue affecting rural livelihoods. education. The estimated WTP value. While resources are adequate at the aggregate level. and economic incentives so as to enhance rural water security through improved water quality management in Chile’s Maipo River Basin. IFPRI has developed tailored approaches to include demand management. which could then be weighed against the costs of investments in infrastructure or control measures which can provide higher water quality. animal and plant life and are an essential component of economic activity. The rapid increase in demand for water for nonirrigational purposes driven by growing income and economic growth is affecting rural water supplies. when aggregated over the relevant population. temporal or seasonal and quality constraints create challenges in meeting increasing demand for water in different sectors. To better provide advice to decision makers. To improve decision making at the local level. represents total economic benefits of improved inputs.

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