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Food Security: A Glimpse on Its Resolution from the Past to the Present

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It is a major challenge for various developing countries in sustaining food security at the national level and household levels. The Food and Agriculture Organization reports that an estimated 870 million people are undernourished in 2010-2012. This is 12.5% of the world’s population. A big chunk of these lives in developing nations (852 million) which is estimated to be 14.9% of the population.

Food Security Defined

The United States Aid for International Development (USAID) states that food security  is present when all individuals at all times have access physically and economically to sufficient food to meet their nutrition needs for life that is productive and healthy. Food security targets three unique but interrelated concepts, all three of which are necessary to obtaining food security.

Availability of food: There are sufficient food quantities from household production, commercial imports, other domestic output, or food assistance.

Access to food: There are adequate resources to get suitable food for a nutritious diet that is dependent on the household distribution of income, available income, and food prices.

Utilization of food: There is correct biological utilization of food that requires a diet with essential nutrients and sufficient energy; adequate sanitation and potable water; knowledge of storage and processing of food, basic nutrition, child care and management of diseases.

Major Challenges in Achieving Food Security

Climate Change. Climate change is greatly affecting agriculture. In all parts of the world, flora and fauna adapt to the prevailing climatic conditions. Even in the slightest change in climate, plants and animals are affected with plants becoming less productive. Some species even disappear. There are some impacts that can be easily predicted while there are those that are complex to predict. An example of complex predictions occurs like determining the effect of a certain climatic change on a whole ecosystem. Cultivated plants react in a positive manner to an increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Unfortunately, weeds also react in the same manner. The output for this scenario is that there might be an increase or decrease in the product of the cultivated plant depending on weeds that compete for the required nutrients and water. This will have a boomerang effect on pests as they tend to move to areas that are biologically unprepared for their existence. This results in a risk in the production of agriculture that directly related to additional risks in food security. People who depend directly on the yield of agriculture for food and livelihood are greatly affected. Moreover, this will also affect the nutrition and food security of neighboring populations through disrupted trade and price volatility.

Growing use of food crops as a source of fuel. The production of food crops for bioenergy in replacement of fossil fuels remains to be a controversial issue. Increasing food prices and the decrease in the availability of food crops are results of the conversion of land from food to fuel production. This results in a negative effect on human nutrition since the world’s population is rising. Poor people tend to compromise the quantity and quality of the food consumed due to rising prices that ultimately will lead to malnutrition and health problems. Water scarcity will result to the diversion of water resources from depleted aquifers to biofuel crops in areas that require additional irrigation.

Soaring food prices. Food prices began to rise in 2006 and escalated into a surge of inflation in 2007 and 2008. Staple foods such as rice and vegetable oil doubled their price between January and May 2008. This also coincided with the increase in fertilizer and petroleum prices. For nations that have low-income and highly dependent on import, these higher food prices have become a major challenge. This has worsened especially to those who have limited foreign exchange availability and high vulnerability to food insecurity. Inflation is triggered when high food prices with high petroleum prices exacerbate poor countries. Households with below minimum salary wage are greatly affected as they have a larger portion of food expenditures.

Assessment of the World Food Summit Goal

The period of evaluation starts from 1995 to 2015 in assessing the World Food Summit Goal.  There was a decrease from 827 million in 1995 to 475 million in 2015 in the number of people who have food insecurity in 76 study countries. The USDA-ERS analysis shows that 38 of the 76 study countries have met or exceeded the WFS goal. Moreover, to added countries (Nigeria, Cape Verde, Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, Algeria, Jamaica, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and Indonesia) were declared as food secure in 1995 and through 2015. There were only 28 of the study countries that were not unable to reach the goal. Sixty-eight percent of the Latin America and Caribbean region saw the greatest decline in the number of food-insecure people. Countries that were included are Guatemala, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Colombia, and Peru. Asia had a 58-percent decrease in food-insecure people. These included Commonwealth of Independent States, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Laos, Nepal, and Vietnam. Sub-Saharan Africa declined by 10 percent from 1995 to 2015 in terms of food-insecure people.

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and Sustainable Developmental Goals

The globe faces complex and multiple challenges in the 21st century. The international community is encouraged to commit to the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Food and agriculture are key to achieving the whole SDGs. Moreover, hunger and poverty are aimed to be rid of in 2030 if all commit to work hand-in-hand. FAO is already hands on with small producers, governments, the private sector and other key people in food security projects all over the globe.


Food insecurity is a global threat and challenge. However, major steps have been made. It is hoped that the world will be free from it in the years to come.

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