Effective policies need to consider interactions at multiple levels, say John Ingram and Tim Benton.
The way individuals and institutions react to environmental and other stresses affects food security at local, national and international levels. This was seen in the food price-spikes in 2007/08 where a combination of droughts affecting food production in some countries, food export restrictions in others, and speculation on world markets exacerbated hunger in many counties for extended periods around the world.
Continue reading Embracing the complexity of food security
Muhammad Akbar reviews the problems and potential of a populous food producing nation.
Agriculture plays a major role in Pakistan’s economy; it accounts for 21% of GDP and 45% of the workforce is employed in agriculture. But agriculture in Pakistan faces numerous difficulties and despite its importance to the country, food security is not guaranteed for significant portions of the country.
Pakistan’s population in 2011 was 177 million – the sixth largest in the world – and is predicted to reach 191.7 million by 2015. Yet the agriculture sector has been suffering from decline for the past three decades. Productivity remains low; yields per unit area are low, and critical investments in developing new plant varieties, farming technology and water infrastructure are not being made.
Continue reading Food security in Pakistan: past and present
Has environmental protection taken the edge off UK farming’s competitiveness? Mark Tinsley makes the case.
Who should run the countryside? This was the banner of an event was hosted by Relu (the Rural Economy and Land Use programme) on Nov 16 this year in Gateshead, UK. It was a day-long opportunity for people from all walks of life to take part in activities coordinated by Relu researchers and debate major questions about the future of the UK countryside.
Continue reading Debating rural affairs
UK agriculture needs to be more competitive, says Jim Godfrey.
As farmers we want a competitive farming industry because that is what will be sustainable in the longer term. A competitive industry is profitable, more resilient, better able to withstand financial, disease and other shocks; it is more likely to reinvest, better able to provide good working conditions, environmental benefits, and give greater choice, innovation and value to consumers as well as being less likely to require subsidy.
Over the last 20 years we have seen the output of UK agriculture decline, mainly as a result of less land in production and less livestock. The UK’s self sufficiency has decreased too, and the average yields of our major crops have at best only marginally increased over this time, the notable exception being sugar beet. The pig sector has decreased substantially as a result of UK welfare legislation and subsequent under re-investment, whilst the poultry sector has increased substantially due to well targeted research and investment in buildings.
Continue reading Better British farming
Individuals, governments and farmers are all responsible for the changes we need, says Oliver Dowding.
My first 13 years of farming saw endless lorry-loads of fertilisers and chemicals coming on to the farm. The controls on their usage, and the consequential problems, were evidently increasing. I re-examined what I was doing and who the gainers and losers were.
Conclusion: I needed to cut down the inputs, improve sustainability, stay friends with the consumer and re-enliven my soils.
Continue reading Business as usual is not an option
The new Common Agricultural Policy can deliver food security, but not alongside wider benefits says Gareth Edward-Jones.
Just after Easter I gave my first public talk about the forthcoming reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) that is due to be introduced in 2013.
Predicting and pontificating on the ideal form of future policies is every economist’s dream. You get to show how clever you are in your analysis, how balanced you in are in your appreciation of all relevant factors, and how much better the world would be if only the government would take your ideas on board.
Continue reading The politics of food
Put focused, transparent and accountable food security initiatives first for sustainable development, says Morgane Danielou of the Farming First coalition.
Last year in L’Aquila, Italy, G8 leaders pledged US$20Bn (since revised to $22Bn) to address global food security.
Since the food crisis erupted in 2008, a large number of global and regional food security initiatives have been launched or strengthened in response.
Continue reading A message to G8 leaders
At the launch of the book Science and Innovation for Development on 19 January, co-author Sir Gordon Conway said: “It doesn’t matter where the technology comes from, it matters that it is appropriate.”
Too often international development researchers, policy makers and practitioners get caught up in the source of a technology, and use this as the metric for whether it will be successful.
Continue reading What is an appropriate technology?
The second decade of the last century was an important decade for food research with the setting up of six research institutes focusing on specific sectors such as dairying (National Institute for Research in Dairying) plant breeding (Welsh Plant Breeding Institute) and human nutrition (Rowett Research Institute).
The second decade of this century is witnessing a resurgence of interest in food research, but this time with a difference. Today, the research objectives are not so much about maximising production of food, but producing nutritious food while minimising negative impacts on the environment, including limiting greenhouse-gas emissions.
Continue reading The past, the future, and partnerships
Right now the European Commission (EC) is working on a new policy framework for assisting developing countries address agriculture and food security challenges.
Why is such a policy important?
Because for developing countries, the consequences of insecure food supplies are severe and undermine development and progress. 3 out of 4 people in developing countries live in rural areas, and most depend on agriculture for their livelihoods.
Continue reading Developing countries face a greater threat