Global Food Security

Global Food Security

Challenges for the Food and Agricultural System You do not have access to this content

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19 June 2013
9789264195363 (PDF) ;9789264195349(print)

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This study examines how changes to the functioning of the world’s food and agriculture system can contribute to reduced hunger and the attainment of global food security. The challenge is wide ranging and multi-faceted. While food production will respond to the demands of a rising and more affluent world population, effective government policies can stimulate productivity and contain upward pressure on food prices. They can also help ensure that land and water resources are used more sustainably, and that farmers have the capacity to manage risk and adapt to climate change. Trade will have an important role to play in ensuring that resources are used efficiently and sustainably, and in getting food from surplus to deficit regions. At the same time, multilateral reforms are needed to ensure that the world trading system functions more smoothly and fairly than it has done in the past.

Approximately two-thirds of the world’s poor live in rural areas, where farming is the principal economic activity. This study considers how government policies can raise the incomes of agricultural and rural households, and thereby improve poor peoples’ access to food. Yet while income growth is essential for long-term food security, it is not sufficient. Complementary policies, for example to improve health and sanitation, are required to ensure improvements in peoples’ nutrition. Action is thus required on many fronts. The purpose of this study is to help policymakers establish priorities at global, regional and national levels.

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  • Foreword
    This study considers how changes to the world’s food and agriculture system can contribute to improvements in food security in developing countries. It takes stock of a range of existing OECD work, including that undertaken with other international organisations, in particular for the G20, and places that work in the context of wider analysis both by international organisations and in academia. The purpose is to distil the main priorities for ensuring long-term global food security. The policy recommendations seek to improve the coherence of OECD countries’ policies and contribute to multilateral initiatives, such as those pursued through the G20. More widely, the study seeks to contribute to the global debate on issues pertaining to global food security.
  • Abbreviations
  • Executive summary

    The challenge of eliminating global hunger is more about raising the incomes of the poor than an issue of food prices.

    Eliminating hunger and malnutrition, and achieving global food security more widely, is among the most intractable problems humanity faces. While many once poor countries are now developing rapidly, the world as a whole is unlikely to meet the First Millennium Development Goal target of halving, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of the world’s population who suffer from hunger. According to FAO figures, the total number of undernourished people in developing countries has fallen from just under a billion in 1990-92 to around 852 million in 2010-12. However, the pace of reduction has slowed and the absolute numbers remain stubbornly high.

  • The challenge of global food security
    This chapter describes the fundamental challenge of eliminating hunger and ensuring global food security. It assesses the scale of that challenge, identifies the basic conditions that need to be met, and sets out the key policy issues.
  • Ensuring global food availability
    The chapter considers the ways in which governments can improve the availability of food sustainably. While food production will respond to the needs of a rising and more affluent world population, there are steps that governments can take to improve the availability of food, either by stimulating supply sustainably or by constraining demands that are detrimental to nutritional outcomes.
  • The role of food and agricultural trade in ensuring domestic food availability
    This chapter examines the role of agricultural trade in ensuring that food is available domestically. It considers the balancing role of international and regional trade, the benefits and costs associated with open markets, as well as the ways in which governments can manage shocks emanating from both domestic and international markets.
  • Improving access to food
    This chapter focuses on the ways in which agricultural and broad-based rural development can contribute to improvements in food security. It examines the ways in which governments can strengthen agricultural incomes, while enabling households to diversify their income sources and take advantage of non-farm employment opportunities.
  • Food utilisation and nutritional outcomes
    This chapter examines the extent to which income growth explains food security outcomes, and identifies necessary complements such as improved health and sanitation. It also examines the allocation of Official Development Assistance in support of food and nutrition security.
  • Priorities for achieving global food security
    This chapter provides the reports main policy conclusions. These fall into three categories: (i) an identification of priorities for global action; (ii) recommendations for ways in policies in OECD can be made more coherent with the goal of global food security; and (iii) broad recommendations in terms of developing countries’ own policies.
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