Name : Prince AbabioTopic : Food Insecurity in DevelopingCountriesThe world is faced with manychallenges ranging from terrorism to cyber fraud. One problem affecting ustoday which people in the United States and other developed countries don’treally know about is food insecurity. Food security exists when allpeople always have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe, andnutritious food that meets their dietary needs.
( FAO State of food in theworld 2017). Food insecurity exists when people do not have adequate, physical,social or economic access to food as defined aboveThe creation world where eachinhabitant is food secured is one of the most daunting challenges in the 21stCentury. In Ghana where I come from, a country in West Africa and otherdeveloping countries in the world suffer from this problem. The United Nations Foodand Agriculture Organization estimates that about 795 million people of the 7.3billion people in the world, or one in nine, were suffering from chronicundernourishment in 2014-2016.( World food program, 10 facts about hunger). Almostall the hungry people, 780 million, live in developing countries. It is evidentthat food insecurity is prevalent in developing countries mainly in Sub SaharanAfrica and South Eastern Asia.
Food Insecurity is not an issue absentfrom the developed world. According to US Department ofAgriculture Economic Research Service (USDA ERS) data in 2016, 12.3 percentof US households are considered to have low to very low food security. Many ofthe households are low income and face access-related impediments to foodsecurity. ( USDA, Economic Research Service, using data from 2016 DecemberCurrent Population Survey Food Security Supplement www.ers.usda.gov/topics/food-nutrition-assistance/food-security-in-the-us/key-statistics-graphics.
aspx). Food security consists of fourdimensions, as identified by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of theUnited Nations: availability, access, utilization and stability (FAO 2009).These are the four main pillars to determine if we are food secured orinsecured.” Availability of food isdetermined by domestic production in each country, the import capacity of foodinto the country, existence of food stocks. It is the physical existence offood in the household level. Access to food depends on levels of poverty,purchasing power of households, prices and the existence of transport, marketinfrastructure and food distribution systems. Food Utilization depends on careand feeding, food safety and quality, access to clean water and sanitation. Ifnutritious food is available and accessible, the household has to be able todecide what food to purchase and how to prepare it well as to how to consumeand allocate it within the household.
Stability describes the temporal durationof food availability and nutrition security. Stability is achieved when thesupply on household levels remains constant during the year and in the longterm”.( Introduction to the basic concepts of Food).Food insecurity is caused bymany factors. Long term trends related to population growth and shiftingdemographics have placed an increasing pressure on existing food productioncapacity and availability. In principle, all countries thrive toproduce more food than they consume thereby adequately nourishing thepopulation while building up food reserves that can be used to feed thepopulation in times of shortage and also exporting some for income. A positivecorrelation therefore exists between demand for food and increasing population.Food production depends on croplands and water supply, which are under strainas human populations increase.
Pressure on limited land resources, driven inpart by population growth, can mean expansion of cropland. This often involvesdestruction of vital forest resources or overexploitation of arable land.Population pressures incoastal areas are also affecting food security in countries where there is ahigh dependence on fisheries for protein.
In the Philippines, for example,recent research has shown that human pressures, including population growth,have adversely affected the productivity of municipal fisheries. Thesefisheries had previously provided up to 80 percent of dietary protein forinhabitants in rural coastal areas, and are now on the decline. ( Castro J and L D’Agnes.
2008. “Fishing for Families:Reproductive Health and Integrated Coastal Management in the Philippines”Focus. Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson Center.)Ineffective long termagriculture and nutrition polices are a major contributing factor to foodinsecurity in most developing countries.
Most farmers in developing countriescontinue to use the ancient method of farming as compared to their counterpartsin developed countries. Lack of the technological approach to modern dayfarming contributes massively to food insecurity. People in developingcountries still rely exclusively on rainfall to grow their crops, and they lackthe machines to usher them into large scale farming. Bad road networks in manydeveloping countries leaves crop yields getting spoilt on the farm before theyare transported to distribution centers. Climate disruption and extremeweather events go a long way to cause food insecurity. In regions of the worldwhere rain has declined because of climate change, crops fail. In places wherethe arrival or departure of seasonal rainfall is shifting, farmers either plantcrops too early or too late missing the highest rainfall.
Even for farmers withaccess to irrigation or state-of-the-art weather information, catastrophicstorms and drought will result in production failures. If production levelsfall, the supplies entering the markets may also fall. These drops in supplycould affect prices of crop and the livestock that consume the crops. Ifclimate change continues at its current rate, it may lead to food insecurity inboth developed and developing countries.
A study in Tanzania in 2011 indicates by 2050, projected seasonaltemperature increases by 2°C reduce average maize, Sorghum and rice yields by13%, 8.8% and 7.6% respectively. Also 20% increase in intra seasonalprecipitation variability reduces agricultural yields by 4.2%, 7.2% and 7.6%respectively for maize, sorghum and rice.( Pedram R, David BL, Navin R (2011)) Of the over 800 million peoplechronically food-insecure and malnourished in the world, the vast majority-489million- live in countries affected by conflict.
The proportion is even morepronounced for undernourished children. Almost 122 million, or 75 percent, ofstunted children under age five live in countries affected by conflict, withthe difference in average prevalence between conflict and non-conflict affectedcountries at nine percentage points.( How close are we to #ZeroHunger? – FAO –Digital Report). Violent conflicts have increaseddramatically since 2010 and currently at an all time level with signs that itwill continue in the coming years.
Conflicts is a main driver of humandisplacement and people who are displaced are more vulnerable to foodinsecurity than any other population. On the average, 56 percent of the peopleaffected with conflicts live in rural areas where they are dependent onagriculture. Conflicts affects every aspect of agriculture from producing,harvesting, processing and transport to input supply, financing and marketing.The impact of conflicts on food systems can be severe especially when theeconomy and people`s livelihoods depend significantly on agriculture. For example,the December 2007 post election conflict in Kenya disrupted production andtrade and displaced farmers and laborers, which caused the normally food secureregion of central and western Kenya to become food insecure. ( Population`s rolein the current food crisis: Focus on East Africa).Economic recession also leadsto food insecurity.
In the second half of 2006, prices for most commoditiesbegan to climb worldwide. By the first half of 2008, international price (USdollar) for many crop yields such as cereals prices had reached it maximum peakfor the first time in almost 30 years, threatening food security to the poorworldwide and provoking widespread concern over an apparent food crisis(Foodand Agricultural Organization). Higher food prices were transmitted to domesticmarkets in all countries in the world with developing countries being hit themost. The impact of high food prices was obviously severe on the poor who spendmost of their total income on food. As a result of the economic recession, mostfamilies were forced to cut down on their spending especially on food leadingto many domestic homes unable to survive on the 3 basic square meals a day.In fact, problems with theeconomy and problems of food insecurity reinforce each other. Poor economycause food insecurity and if agriculture is weakened, the economy of a smalldeveloping country may collapse.
A nation which is economically unstable oftenexperiences food insecurity and food insecurity effects is low growth of theeconomy. It forms a vicious circle. Agriculture due to its size and linkage tothe rest of the economy determines the strength of their economies indeveloping countries and has been seen as the engine of their economic growth. Despite the fact that 60% ofEthiopian land was suitable for agricultural production in 2003, only 10% wasbeing cultivated, undermining an economy that was, and still is, basedprimarily on agriculture (Asefa 60). And since smallholder farms produceconduct 95% of Ethiopian agriculture, a weak economy with unfulfilled potentialcontributes to poverty by lowering incomes, which in turn, contributes to foodinsecurity (Asefa 60) Income from agricultural products exportedto other countries is cut short because a country which can not feed its peoplewouldn’t be in a good position to export food outside to generate revenue todevelop the country. Low levels of agricultural products in these developingcountries also affect productivity of the citizens. When one has less to eat,physically and psychologically the person will not be in the right condition toaccomplish work related tasks. Less productivity goes a long way to affect thedevelopment of the country.
At the individual level, foodinsecurity negatively affects overall growth and development of a human being.It is both a threat and a cause of reduced performance and productivity, both ofwhich can result in low productivity. Basic human food needs include adequateintake of calories (energy) from macronutrients (proteins, fats, andcarbohydrates) in addition to micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) and water.However, most measurements of hunger focus solely on caloric intake (FAO:Hunger Portal).
Inadequate or unbalanced nutrient amount or absorption to meetbasic energy requirements can lead to undernourishment. This leads to a physiologicalcondition called malnutrition. The effects of malnutrition include wasting (lowweight-to-height ratio indicating weight loss from recent starvation or disease),stunting (low height-to-age ratio indicating sustained episodes ofundernutrition) and underweight(low-weight-to-age ratio resulting from fooddeprivation, past experiences of undernutrition, or poor health conditions)(FAO 1999).Household food insecurity has insidious effectson the health and development of young children, including increasedhospitalizations, poor health, iron deficiency, developmental risk and behaviorproblems, primarily aggression, anxiety, depression, and attention deficitdisorder. These concerns early in life increase children’s risk of poor schoolreadiness, poor school performance and subsequent health disparities andpoverty. Research among school-age children has found associations betweenhousehold food insecurity and low scores on measures of health, behavioralfunctioning and academic performance.
( Food insecurityand hunger: A review of the effects on children’s health and behavior) Findings related to the association betweenhousehold food insecurity and children’s growth have been controversial, withsome studies showing overweight/obesity and others showing underweight. Howdo we approach the problem of food insecurity in developing? The role ofscience and technology can help to curb this problem. Science and technologycan help to improve the quality and quantity of and access to food. The moderntechnological advancements in agriculture can be attributed to two main areas:plant genetics and technology developments which includes commercialization oflow-cost synthetic inputs, such as fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides, aswell agricultural machinery, such as tractors and combines. Beginning withCharles Darwin’s evolutionary theories of genetic variance and Gregor Mendel’slaws of genetic inheritance, scientist have been able to come up with newbreeds of plants and animals which grow at a faster and healthier rate.
Thecombined forces of plant genetics, production machinery, and low-cost inputswill enable a great increase in agricultural yield.