Name which people in the United States and

Name : Prince Ababio

Topic : Food Insecurity in Developing
Countries

The world is faced with many
challenges ranging from terrorism to cyber fraud. One problem affecting us
today which people in the United States and other developed countries don’t
really know about is food insecurity.

Food security exists when all
people always have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe, and
nutritious food that meets their dietary needs. ( FAO State of food in the
world 2017). Food insecurity exists when people do not have adequate, physical,
social or economic access to food as defined above

The creation world where each
inhabitant is food secured is one of the most daunting challenges in the 21st
Century. In Ghana where I come from, a country in West Africa and other
developing countries in the world suffer from this problem. The United Nations Food
and Agriculture Organization estimates that about 795 million people of the 7.3
billion people in the world, or one in nine, were suffering from chronic
undernourishment in 2014-2016.( World food program, 10 facts about hunger). Almost
all the hungry people, 780 million, live in developing countries. It is evident
that food insecurity is prevalent in developing countries mainly in Sub Saharan
Africa and South Eastern Asia. Food Insecurity is not an issue absent
from the developed world. According to US Department of
Agriculture Economic Research Service (USDA ERS) data in 2016, 12.3 percent
of US households are considered to have low to very low food security. Many of
the households are low income and face access-related impediments to food
security. ( USDA, Economic Research Service, using data from 2016 December
Current Population Survey Food Security Supplement www.ers.usda.gov/topics/food-nutrition-assistance/food-security-in-the-us/key-statistics-graphics.aspx)

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Food security consists of four
dimensions, as identified by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the
United Nations: availability, access, utilization and stability (FAO 2009).
These are the four main pillars to determine if we are food secured or
insecured.

” Availability of food is
determined by domestic production in each country, the import capacity of food
into the country, existence of food stocks. It is the physical existence of
food in the household level. Access to food depends on levels of poverty,
purchasing power of households, prices and the existence of transport, market
infrastructure and food distribution systems. Food Utilization depends on care
and feeding, food safety and quality, access to clean water and sanitation. If
nutritious food is available and accessible, the household has to be able to
decide what food to purchase and how to prepare it well as to how to consume
and allocate it within the household. Stability describes the temporal duration
of food availability and nutrition security. Stability is achieved when the
supply on household levels remains constant during the year and in the long
term”.( Introduction to the basic concepts of Food).

Food insecurity is caused by
many factors. Long term trends related to population growth and shifting
demographics have placed an increasing pressure on existing food production
capacity and availability. In principle, all countries thrive to
produce more food than they consume thereby adequately nourishing the
population while building up food reserves that can be used to feed the
population in times of shortage and also exporting some for income. A positive
correlation therefore exists between demand for food and increasing population.
Food production depends on croplands and water supply, which are under strain
as human populations increase. Pressure on limited land resources, driven in
part by population growth, can mean expansion of cropland. This often involves
destruction of vital forest resources or overexploitation of arable land.

Population pressures in
coastal areas are also affecting food security in countries where there is a
high 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. These
fisheries had previously provided up to 80 percent of dietary protein for
inhabitants 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 term
agriculture and nutrition polices are a major contributing factor to food
insecurity in most developing countries. Most farmers in developing countries
continue to use the ancient method of farming as compared to their counterparts
in developed countries. Lack of the technological approach to modern day
farming contributes massively to food insecurity. People in developing
countries still rely exclusively on rainfall to grow their crops, and they lack
the machines to usher them into large scale farming. Bad road networks in many
developing countries leaves crop yields getting spoilt on the farm before they
are transported to distribution centers.

Climate disruption and extreme
weather events go a long way to cause food insecurity. In regions of the world
where rain has declined because of climate change, crops fail. In places where
the arrival or departure of seasonal rainfall is shifting, farmers either plant
crops too early or too late missing the highest rainfall. Even for farmers with
access to irrigation or state-of-the-art weather information, catastrophic
storms and drought will result in production failures. If production levels
fall, the supplies entering the markets may also fall. These drops in supply
could affect prices of crop and the livestock that consume the crops. If
climate change continues at its current rate, it may lead to food insecurity in
both developed and developing countries. A study in Tanzania in 2011 indicates by 2050, projected seasonal
temperature increases by 2°C reduce average maize, Sorghum and rice yields by
13%, 8.8% and 7.6% respectively. Also 20% increase in intra seasonal
precipitation 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 people
chronically food-insecure and malnourished in the world, the vast majority-489
million- live in countries affected by conflict. The proportion is even more
pronounced for undernourished children. Almost 122 million, or 75 percent, of
stunted children under age five live in countries affected by conflict, with
the difference in average prevalence between conflict and non-conflict affected
countries at nine percentage points.( How close are we to #ZeroHunger? – FAO –
Digital Report).

Violent conflicts have increased
dramatically since 2010 and currently at an all time level with signs that it
will continue in the coming years. Conflicts is a main driver of human
displacement and people who are displaced are more vulnerable to food
insecurity than any other population. On the average, 56 percent of the people
affected with conflicts live in rural areas where they are dependent on
agriculture. 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 the
economy and people`s livelihoods depend significantly on agriculture. For example,
the December 2007 post election conflict in Kenya disrupted production and
trade and displaced farmers and laborers, which caused the normally food secure
region of central and western Kenya to become food insecure. ( Population`s role
in the current food crisis: Focus on East Africa).

Economic recession also leads
to food insecurity. In the second half of 2006, prices for most commodities
began to climb worldwide. By the first half of 2008, international price (US
dollar) for many crop yields such as cereals prices had reached it maximum peak
for the first time in almost 30 years, threatening food security to the poor
worldwide and provoking widespread concern over an apparent food crisis(Food
and Agricultural Organization). Higher food prices were transmitted to domestic
markets in all countries in the world with developing countries being hit the
most. The impact of high food prices was obviously severe on the poor who spend
most of their total income on food. As a result of the economic recession, most
families were forced to cut down on their spending especially on food leading
to many domestic homes unable to survive on the 3 basic square meals a day.

In fact, problems with the
economy and problems of food insecurity reinforce each other. Poor economy
cause food insecurity and if agriculture is weakened, the economy of a small
developing country may collapse. A nation which is economically unstable often
experiences food insecurity and food insecurity effects is low growth of the
economy. It forms a vicious circle. Agriculture due to its size and linkage to
the rest of the economy determines the strength of their economies in
developing countries and has been seen as the engine of their economic growth.  Despite the fact that 60% of
Ethiopian land was suitable for agricultural production in 2003, only 10% was
being cultivated, undermining an economy that was, and still is, based
primarily on agriculture (Asefa 60). And since smallholder farms produce
conduct 95% of Ethiopian agriculture, a weak economy with unfulfilled potential
contributes to poverty by lowering incomes, which in turn, contributes to food
insecurity (Asefa 60) Income from agricultural products exported
to other countries is cut short because a country which can not feed its people
wouldn’t be in a good position to export food outside to generate revenue to
develop the country. Low levels of agricultural products in these developing
countries also affect productivity of the citizens. When one has less to eat,
physically and psychologically the person will not be in the right condition to
accomplish work related tasks. Less productivity goes a long way to affect the
development of the country.

At the individual level, food
insecurity negatively affects overall growth and development of a human being.
It is both a threat and a cause of reduced performance and productivity, both of
which can result in low productivity. Basic human food needs include adequate
intake of calories (energy) from macronutrients (proteins, fats, and
carbohydrates) 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 meet
basic energy requirements can lead to undernourishment. This leads to a physiological
condition called malnutrition. The effects of malnutrition include wasting (low
weight-to-height ratio indicating weight loss from recent starvation or disease),
stunting (low height-to-age ratio indicating sustained episodes of
undernutrition) and underweight(low-weight-to-age ratio resulting from food
deprivation, past experiences of undernutrition, or poor health conditions)
(FAO 1999).

Household food insecurity has insidious effects
on the health and development of young children, including increased
hospitalizations, poor health, iron deficiency, developmental risk and behavior
problems, primarily aggression, anxiety, depression, and attention deficit
disorder. These concerns early in life increase children’s risk of poor school
readiness, poor school performance and subsequent health disparities and
poverty. Research among school-age children has found associations between
household food insecurity and low scores on measures of health, behavioral
functioning and academic performance. ( Food insecurity
and hunger: A review of the effects on children’s health and behavior)

 Findings related to the association between
household food insecurity and children’s growth have been controversial, with
some studies showing overweight/obesity and others showing underweight. 

How
do we approach the problem of food insecurity in developing? The role of
science and technology can help to curb this problem. Science and technology
can help to improve the quality and quantity of and access to food. The modern
technological advancements in agriculture can be attributed to two main areas:
plant genetics and technology developments which includes commercialization of
low-cost synthetic inputs, such as fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides, as
well agricultural machinery, such as tractors and combines. Beginning with
Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theories of genetic variance and Gregor Mendel’s
laws of genetic inheritance, scientist have been able to come up with new
breeds of plants and animals which grow at a faster and healthier rate. The
combined forces of plant genetics, production machinery, and low-cost inputs
will enable a great increase in agricultural yield.