Population growth and the food crisis
But the world's food supply is not at the root of the problem rather it is what is done with it. In fact, food production in terms of cereals is at far. The world produces enough food to feed 10 billion people. Only accountability by those who produce food and regulate society can hope to achieve this What is the millennium development goal on poverty and hunger all. The leading world authority on the politics of the food industry is Susan George, and would not be able to link up issues of equal importance to the Left – global poverty, .. What is socialist policy on food and poverty?.
Given no shortage of food on the global level, all incidence of food poverty can be attributed to maldistribution rather than underproduction. Reducing food shortage at national and sub-national levels is an important tool for reducing food poverty, but not simply because lack of shortage eliminates the necessity of food poverty.
Productive and distributive mechanisms - not just food availability - change when there is food shortage. Famines, embargoes, and structural adjustment all cause shifts in the conditions of exchange that lead to entitlement failure Ravallion Changes in food production affect at-risk households primarily through changes in income and prices, rather than as a direct result of food supply.
Famine may also cause smallholders ordinarily subsisting on the margin to destitute themselves by selling land and other assets - acts that permanently shift the power and social structure of a society. A special case of food shortage is violent conflict that reduces food availability and changes patterns of food distribution in affected countries.
Food imports during times of violence are often restricted by embargoes. During both international and intranational conflict, governments put a high priority on provisioning the military, which tends to decrease civilian access to food.
Although it is theoretically possible for local food production to increase enough to offset the food deficit caused by embargoes and diversion of existing supplies to the military, this usually does not happen quickly enough to avoid increased poverty.
It is much more common for internal food production to decrease, because land has been abandoned and livestock sold by agriculturists seeking to avoid being plundered Tschirley and Weber It is also quite difficult to expand production when economic and human resources are being devoted to the conflict. Also, different households are likely to suffer from food poverty in times of embargoes and other trade restrictions. Although many of those ordinarily food poor may still suffer, some poor households will benefit from having members in the military and, even if there are no direct benefits, resources then do not have to be shared as many ways.
In addition, warfare may increase certain kinds of production, creating new employment and income. However, in most recent conflict situations there are many more losers than beneficiaries, because of destruction, looting, and political control of food distribution.
When the share of marketed food goes down, the resources required to obtain it can be prohibitive. Commerce restrictions also have effects on food poverty that do not operate through shortage.
Households whose livelihoods depend on wages from industries that specialize in export goods may be especially vulnerable to food poverty if embargoes lead to unemployment or underemployment for workers in those industries.
A fuller discussion of the effects of employment on food poverty follows in the section on entitlements. Social displacement People driven across international borders as a result of war or civil strife are refugees. The most fortunate of refugees may be able to contact family members who migrated in less stressful times, but most leave behind possessions, sources of income, and social ties. Abrupt social displacement removes most customary sources of entitlement to food and for many, charitable distributions are the only buffers between them and starvation.
Food insecurity among refugee populations is a concern of the United Nations and non-governmental organizations NGOswho raise money, food, and resources to relieve poverty and hunger throughout the world. The situation of refugees highlights the well-known relationship between hunger and infection.
Mortality in refugee camps is very high, but little is attributed exclusively to hunger. Concentration of people in refugee camps brings diseases from a wide range of locations, and these diseases spread rapidly among people already weakened by hunger Seaman Those whose immunity is compromised by poor food intake are often unable to withstand infections that would not be life threatening under ordinary circumstances.
Macroeconomic policies Government spending and poverty-alleviation efforts influence economic activity, employment, incomes, and household access to food. Exchange rates, balance of trade, debt repayment, and other financial institutions all provide an environment that conditions what economic activities households pursue and whether food is available and affordable. Many countries, prior to the oil crisis of the s, pursued economic policies that relied heavily on debt spending and provided hefty food subsidies and government-sponsored health care for the poor.
As debt became an ever-greater burden, the international financial community insisted that governments "adjust" their spending and restructure public enterprise. The set of policies developed to enforce greater fiscal responsibility are called "structural adjustment" or "adjustment" policies.
Although the goal of structural adjustment is to build a healthier economy for the long run, the associated policies that cut social welfare spending, readjust exchange rates downward, and insist on greater investment in exports, including export crops, have been blamed for much of the food poverty that currently afflicts the countries affected. Structural adjustment Structural-adjustment policies have been negotiated between international financial institutions - primarily the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund IMF - and a large number of developing countries.
These allow debt-repayment schedules to be redrawn but they also impose conditions that affect the structure of trade and government spending. The purpose of these is to restructure both production incentives and consumption patterns, so that there is a better match between a country's resources and its economic activities. If structural adjustment achieved all of its goals, adjusted countries would demonstrate sustained economic growth that would allow them to repay their debts and remain out of debt in the future.
The process of structural adjustment changes national food availability because it typically involves currency devaluation, which increases the real prices of imported food. It also changes the price of food and other goods relative to the price of labour; this has important implications for the ability of households to secure access to food.
Even households that may benefit from structural adjustment in the longer run are likely to have difficulty securing access to food during rapidly changing social and economic conditions. External debt and debt financing are important constraints on the ability of nations both to import food and to invest in their own agricultural sectors to enhance future production.
Why are there still so many hungry people in the world?
The size of the debt burden in developing nations can be better appreciated by comparing the size of the national debt with gross national product GNP ; in the less-developed countries as a whole produced only about three times as much as they owed.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, debt was It is not realistic to believe that countries can expand agricultural production if huge shares of their economic surplus are being spent on debt service and imports.
Unfortunately, even if structural-adjustment programmes would be tremendously successful in the long run, their short-term effects are often devastating. One of the most common macroeconomic policy changes made by adjusting countries is the devaluation of foreign exchange rates. Having an overvalued currency keeps imports artificially cheap, and, after devaluation, less food can be imported, given the same amount of foreign exchange.
This particular cause of food shortage is most likely to lead to food poverty for the urban poor. Urban dwellers usually have less flexibility and resources to produce their own food and are therefore likely to rely on markets. Since devaluation is often accompanied by wage freezes in both the private and the public sectors, food prices rise while incomes do not. Domestic export industries tend to expand with devaluation because the same volume of exports earns more in the local currencybut the time-lag between devaluation and employment expansion is usually substantial, especially under the conditions of recession that accompany the adoption of structural-adjustment policies.
Recession and adjustment are linked for two main reasons. First, recession usually precedes adjustment: Second, potential to expand production is limited because debt finance and repayment - even on renegotiated terms - consume surplus that could have been reinvested in the economy.
Inflation aggravates the plight of households in adjusting countries. When faced with both higher food prices and higher prices for other necessary goods, these households must trade off their limited resources. Urban households that have lost formal employment, or who find their income inadequate in the face of inflating prices, often compensate by expanding informal-sector activities, but the profitability of these is especially limited during times of recession.
Even though structural adjustment hits the urban poor harder than most rural dwellers, higher prices for agricultural inputs also have severe effects on rural dwellers. In Mexico, growing maize on plots already conditioned to the use of herbicides and fertilizer became unaffordable to many farmers under structural adjustment Collier Overall, structural-adjustment programmes affect the entire economy and decrease private incomes at all levels, but poorer households are disproportionately disadvantaged Macedo Even in countries where income per capita has grown significantly, the income-distribution effects of adjustment contribute to income inequality Serageldin and increase the likelihood that more households will be in food poverty.
Anti-poverty and welfare programmes that directly address the health and food needs of the most disadvantaged can help lessen the pain of structural adjustment, but the poor are still usually left worse off both relatively and absolutely.
Social dimensions of adjustment The World Bank has tried to limit the impact of adjustment on income distribution. Their Social Dimensions of Adjustment project and other poverty-alleviation programmes include interventions intended to increase access to employment and food for the urban poor and access to land and credit for the rural poor.
Public employment schemes and food-for-work programmes have the advantage of targeting scarce resources more effectively to poor households than do direct food-supplementation programmes.
In Senegal, the government has sponsored retraining and rural-resettlement schemes for laid-off civil servants and laid-off workers from the manufacturing sector Serageldin Such capacity-building programmes are critical in preventing adjustment from miring greater numbers in food poverty. Several constitutions and courts in Latin America have recently moved in this direction by making the right to food a legally enforceable right, but the international system, including the UN, still lags behind.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation FAOalmost 1 billion people suffer from chronic hunger and almost 2 billion are under- or overnourished. What is the millennium development goal on poverty and hunger all about? Mark Anderson Read more Children are the most visible victims of nutritional deficiencies. Approximately 5 million children die each year because of poor nutrition. Access to adequate food during the first 1, days of life is vitally important for healthy future generations.
Even a temporary lack of food during that crucial time has a negative effect on physical and intellectual development. The root causes of food insecurity and malnutrition are poverty and inequity rather than shortages. FAO statistics confirm that the world produces enough food to feed the 7 billion people living today, and even the estimated billion population in It is the economic system that is responsible for this prevalence of poverty and hunger.
Recently, climate change has been added to the list of causes. Smallholder farmers tell us that this is a lifestyle for them, not a business.
When they have had to leave their land for financial reasons, they have never emotionally recovered. I have heard these stories in many places; not only in poor developing countries. In addition, rapid population growth can lead to inappropriate farming practices that impoverish and erode the soil; reduce vegetation; over-use and improperly use agrochemicals; and frustrate water resource management.
The result of such practices is severe land degradation. A way ahead Population pressures continue to tip the balance against proper land and water management in many developing countries.
While agricultural production is critical for any form of sustainable future, focusing on the agricultural sector alone without regard for other important factors which influence food production is certainly not the way to tackle the problems. Population programmes must be integrated into overall development objectives and be linked to other resource issues. In order for hard-pressed developing countries to come to grips with falling per caput food production and resource degradation, they need strategic plans that incorporate population concerns such as population growth, distribution and rural-urban migration patterns.
Wherever possible, community development strategies which integrate essential social services as well as production resources should be encouraged. Sustainable development strategies which combat soil erosion and impoverishment, deforestation, falling agricultural output, and poor water management should also be implemented, as should rural agricultural extension schemes which provide credit, seeds, fertilizers and advice to poorer farmers, regardless of whether they are men or women.
4. Food poverty
Finally, support must be given to research on the integration of traditional and emerging technologies for food production. Given the current levels of population and likely trends, it is imperative to anticipate future needs. At the same time, improved resource management would go a long way toward increasing crop yields, preventing land degradation in the first place and providing sustainable livelihoods for millions of rural poor.
The management of natural resources will require an equal commitment to the development of human resources: National population programmes should include comprehensive and accessible maternal and child health care programmes and family planning services in order to reduce the size of families and improve the health and well-being of the entire community.
With such efforts, there is a chance of increasing food production while protecting the environment and easing the burdens of the rural poor. The time and energy required of women for cultivation and harvesting, food processing and preparation as well as the fetching of fuel and water rarely figure in national labour statistics. Their central place in resource use and crop production has yet to be recognized by most governments.
Women rarely participate other than in rather peripheral ways in shaping their countries' economic and social policies. Successful policies will secure women's involvement from the outset and will also ensure that development does not merely mean additional burdens for women.
By formally recognizing women's pivotal role, governments will be taking a big step toward safeguarding food production. First, recognition of the dual role of women is needed. It is imperative that family planning services, improvements in nutrition, access to education and health care be made available to those women who lack access to them.