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Shahid Hussain Raja

Independent Consultant-Public Policy

What is food security
Evolution of concept
Global profile
Major challenges
Global response
Food is the first basic human need and fundamental right
of every human being, having constitutional guarantees in
almost all countries

The United Nations (UN) recognized the Right to food in the
Declaration of Human Rights in 1948,and has since noted
that it is vital for the enjoyment of all other rights.

While food riots can create legitimacy crises for any regime,
they can pose existential threats to weak states

Although food security has always been a crucial issue,
there is increasing global concern in it after 2007/8 food
crises which is reinforced whenever food prices start rising
Food Security is an evolving concept, getting refined after new
developments and greater awareness about its necessity

During 1970s,food crises created awareness for food security and
led to formal institutional response globally. However food
availability through buffer stocks was considered enough for
ensuring food security

During 1980s,concern with increased poverty added access to
food as essential as food availability for food security

During 1990s,interest in human development led to absorption of
food also as an essential component of food security

During 2000s,recurring food crises necessitated to include
stability as one of the main components of food security

During 2010s,evidence of increasing malnutrition among the
children/females led to inclusion of nutrition also as an
essential element of food security

Now food security invariably means five things;
A. Food is available in the country
B. It is accessible to people physically and financially
C. People are healthy to absorb it
D. Food supplies /prices are stable over period
E. It is nutritious enough to sustain a human body

when all people at all times have access to
sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a
healthy and active life.

Food and Agriculture Organisation,UN

Food insecurity is a situation of limited or
uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and
safe foods or limited or uncertain ability to acquire
acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

199092 200002 200507 200810 201113*
World 1 015.3 957.3 906.6 878.2 842.3
19.8 18.4 13.6 15.2 15.7
995.5 938.9 892.9 863.0 826.6
Africa 177.6 214.3 217.6 226.0 226.4
Asia 751.3 662.3 619.6 585.5 552.0
Latina America
& Caribbean
65.7 61.0 54.6 50.3 47.0
Oceania 0.8 1.2 1.1 1.1 1.2
Undernourished Population
Source: State of Food Insecurity 2013 (FAO)
Despite substantial progress made since the MDGs
were launched in 2000, the number of people
chronically undernourished are more than 870
million, bulk of whom are in Africa and Asia; almost
15 percent of their population is undernourished

Most of the progress made was before 2007/8 food
crises. It means any food crises wipes out a
significant proportion of progress made

Even the methodology used by FAO needs to be
improved to truly capture the incidence of
failed agriculture market regulations
lack of anti-dumping mechanisms
export restrictions and panic buying,
US Dollar Depreciation
increased farming for use in biofuels
world oil prices at more than $100 a barrel
global population growth
climate change
loss of agricultural land to residential and industrial
growing consumer demand in China and India

Although growth is essential for poverty alleviation which is a crucial
condition for food and nutrition security, yet this growth must be inclusive,
ensuring the participation of poor in growth effort process for substantial
improvement in food security

Within this framework, contents of growth must target the food and nutrition
aspects to ensure food security---safe drinking water, health services,
targeted food fortification

In the broader perspective, it is the agricultural development which makes the
biggest dent in poverty reduction and hence food and nutrition security

Despite the highest growth rates which can be achieved, there will always
remain a significant section of society which could not reap the benefits of
growth for any reason. State must create an effective, efficient anf transparent
system of Social safety nets for the

Growth must ultimately accompanied by social and political structural
changes such as people empowerment, gender balance, good governance,
private sector participation etc

Global Food Security-Major Challenges
Production-slow rate of growth of food production is
adversely affecting the supply of food grains

Consumption-increasing consumption and wastages are
putting pressures on food grains stocks

Distribution -bottlenecks pose threats to its availability
even in normal times

Politics-political Issues also affecting food chains
Decrease in cultivated area-urbanization, industrialization and
infrastructural projects on lands used for agriculture

Degradation of arable lands due to bad agricultural and irrigation

Stagnant yields due to less than adequate resource allocation for
agricultural R&D

Climate change and environmental threats

Increased cultivation of Biofuels crops on areas previously used
for food crops cultivation

Land grabbing by corporate firms in food insecure countries for
cultivation of food grains and their export to rich countries
Increasing population- sheer number of people
demanding food is increasing

Growing prosperity-more meat items in the domestic
menu which needs more food grains

Changing food habits-urbanization needs more
processed food which consumes more food

Wastages-over eating, throwing away of food cooked
more than the needs and food getting expired in the
domestic fridges/chain stores
Access to food-financial constraints due to
persistent poverty, inequality and lack of
sufficient job opportunities

Access to food-physical constraints, due to
bad governance, infrastructural inadequacies
or wrong policy framework

Food Denial to people and communities due
to militancy, civil war or proxy wars
Poor commitment of the ruling elite to ensure this
fundamental right through proper legislation

Not providing good governance whereby people
have freedom to get food grains without any hassle

Not improving overall law and order and security
situation in the country for peaceful movement of
the food grains and its convenient availability

Not making special arrangements for the provision
of food grains in conflict/disaster prone areas
Food SecurityCountry Responses
Increase production through horizontal expansion-
increase areas under cultivation through technological
interventions, greater water availability and using it

Saving arable lands from property development and
infrastructural use, more reliance on intercropping and
agro forestry etc

Increase production through vertical expansion-increase
the total factors productivity by greater awareness and
use of good agricultural practices, availability of quality
inputs at affordable prices

Reduce production and post production losses
and wastages by encouraging judicious use of
chemicals and improved processing facilities

Establish food godowns at convenient places to
respond to the needs of vulnerable groups as
and when needed

Establish adequate system to forecast shortages
and timely import of food grains
Improve financial access of the people to
food through employment creation, skill
development and job clearance information

Provide income support to the extremely poor
by creating social safety nets

Improve physical access of the people to food
by facilitating free movement of food grains
throughout the country

Improve general health care by allocating more resources to
promotive and preventive healthcare which is more cost
effective and helpful in the developing countries than the

Population planning for arresting its rapid growth with
particular attention to mother and child healthcare

Pay special attention to water borne diseases which are
widespread but can be controlled with dedicated efforts

Food fortification to make it healthy and absorption friendly
Each country to have sufficient buffer stocks available for emergency in
different parts to ensure their easy availability in emergency situation

Code of conduct at UNO level not to impose restrictions on the exports
of food by the food exporting countries in times of crises which
aggravate the situation more than the actual crises

Timely information about the global trends in stocks and production and
early warning in case of looming food shortages must be available

In time import of food grains whenever a country or a regions stocks
appear to fall below the danger threshold

Creation of regional buffer stocks of food grains at neutral places under
the supervision of WFP
Food Security-Global Response
Renewed commitment at global and state level
to reduce poverty by dedicating sufficient
resources for job creation, skill formation ,social
safety nets and ensuring good governance

All countries to allocate more resources for
agricultural Research and Development and to
share the findings of research at institutional and
private level.

Global collaboration to carry out healthcare
reforms to improve absorption and nutrition

Putting in place an efficient and reliable
forecasting and early warning systems for
food grains production and stocks position

Early agreement on global warming,
environmental sustainability and climate

Creation of regional buffer stocks for timely
response to emergent threats of food

Devising fair rules of the game for
international trade for equitable share in the
increase in global trade and development

Universal policy framework for corporate
farming to restrain land grabbing

Ban on cultivation of crops for biofuels on
lands already used for food production

Developing regions have registered significant progress
towards the MDG-1 of reducing poverty / hunger and
undernourishment has fallen by 17 percent since 199092.

However, still one eighth population of the world is not
getting enough food for active living

Growth can raise incomes and reduce hunger, but only
sustainable & broad based growth can reduce hunger &

Growth policies must therefore aim at enhancing
agricultural productivity targeting smallholders and should
specifically target the poor, especially those in rural areas