One of the major challenges faced by leaders today is ensuring global food security, and by 2050 with the world population reaching 10 billion, the demand for food will be 60% greater than it is today. Whether developing or developed, all nations need to deliver sufficient food to their people. More than two billion people live in countries affected by sectarian violence, religious conflicts, or political disputes. These issues often contribute to the vulnerable condition of global food security deteriorated by climate change and natural disaster. As the report titled The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2014, published by the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization, International Fund for Agricultural Development, and the World Food Program, one in nine people in the world, approximately 805 million, are undernourished. The greatest food security challenges, as the report states, remain in sub-Saharan Africa where each day more than one in four people lack sufficient food. It also states that Asia has the highest number of hungry individuals (525.6 million). Developing nations account for 791 million or 98 percent of chronically undernourished people. Providing sufficient food to billions of people is unquestionably a challenge that begs attention.
Why Food Security such a Serious Challenge?
As the fundamental requirement for all human beings, food is something that impacts every aspect of human life. Food scarcity and insecurity have often used by political leaders as a strategic instrument of war. “Hungry populations are more likely to express frustration with troubled leadership, perpetuating a cycle of political instability and further undermining long-term economic development”, claims Kimberly Flowers, Director, Global Food Security Project. Henk-Jan Brinkman and Cullen S. Hendrix in Food Insecurity and Violent Conflict released by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) state that food insecurity heightens the risk of democratic breakdown, civil conflict, protest, rioting, and communal conflict.
Reasons Behind Food Insecurity:
Population growth & Urbanization: Rapid population growth in the developing countries and peoples’ migration to the urban areas have alarmingly deteriorated the condition. It is speculated that by 2050 almost 3 billion people in Asia and Africa will live in urban areas.
Demand for Processed Foods: Peoples’ changing diet habits with preference for foods rich in meat and dairy create a shortage: to produce more meat more grain is required.
Climate change: Rising temperature and continuously decreasing arable landmass is significantly curbing food production. The food the world grows today will feed only half of the population by 2050.
Water Shortage: With the requirement of twice as much the water we need today, the world will face a serious shortage of water in 2050.
Decreased Farming: Rapid urbanization and decreased interesting in farming made people heavily dependent on foods grown by others.
Regions with Vulnerable Food Security:
From reports published by the WFP, it is seen that people with remarkable food insecurity live in Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean. Percentage of undernourished people in proportion to total population in these areas:
- Sub-Saharan Africa: 23.8 percent
- Caribbean: 20.1 percent
- Southern Asia: 15.8 percent (but 17.3 percent without India)
- Eastern Asia: 10.8 percent (but 13.5 percent without China)
- Southeastern Asia: 10.3 percent
Effects of Food Insecurity:
Inadequate supply of food compared to the projected demand results in long-term unrest and political crisis. Again, low supply triggers prices to go up which pushes low-income families to the fringes. Political violence in Syria, Boko Haram’s operations in Nigeria, economic mismanagement in Venezuela, armed conflicts in South Sudan and other places in the world have seriously affected food production and distribution in these areas. Hundreds of thousands of people in these areas are now suffering from long-term food insecurity.
Global Food Security and America:
President Obama has prioritized food security, and under his administration the United States has invested 6,6 billion dollars in “Feed the Future“, a sustainable development program that aims at reducing poverty and hunger. Other than providing logistic support, the program also trains farmers on using new agricultural techniques, increasing productivity and improving nutrition. The legislation of the Global Food Security Act by the Congress prioritizes fighting global hunger and poverty as an important U.S. foreign policy. Although new Trump administration brings uncertainty to this policy, experts think that food-security investments will continue for at least two more years. Saving people from starvation is the most challenging business that organization like WFP must face in near future. Although United States plays a noble role by feeding 90 million people across the world each year, its diplomatic role in disregarding the causes that trigger food insecurity remains unresolved.