Food policy should serve humanity by advancing the humane goals of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger. However, these goals have recently been challenged by emerging forces including climate change, water scarcity, the energy crisis as well as the credit crisis. This paper analyses the overall role of these forces and population growth in redefining global food security. Specifically, global water supply and demand as well as the linkages between water supply and food security are examined. The analysis reveals that the water for food security situation is intricate and might get daunting if no action is taken. Investments are needed today for enhancing future food security; this requires action on several fronts, including tackling climate change, preserving land and conserving water, reducing the energy footprint in food systems, developing and adopting climate resilient varieties, modernising irrigation infrastructure, shoring up domestic food supplies, reforming international food trade, and responding to other global challenges.
Urban agriculture may have a role to play in addressing urban food insecurity problems, which are bound to become increasingly important with the secular trend towards the urbanization of poverty and of population in developing regions. Our understanding of the importance, nature and food security implications of urban agriculture is however plagued by a lack of good quality, reliable data. While studies based on survey data do exist for several major cities, much of the evidence is still qualitative if not anecdotal. Using a recently created dataset bringing together comparable, nationally representative household survey data for 15 developing or transition countries, this paper analyzes in a comparative international perspective the importance of urban agriculture for the urban poor and food insecure. Some clear hints do come from our analysis. On the one hand, the potential for urban agriculture to play a substantial role in urban poverty and food insecurity reduction should not be overemphasised, as its share in income and overall agricultural production is often quite limited. On the other hand, though, its role should also not be too easily dismissed, particularly in much of Africa and in all those countries in which agriculture provides a substantial share of income for the urban poor, and for those groups of households to which it constitutes an important source of livelihoods. We also find fairly consistent evidence of a positive statistical association between engagement in urban agriculture and dietary adequacy indicators.
New EU legislation (EU ) will allow a number of nutrition and health claims in food products. The objective of this research was to study how health claims affect consumers’ perception of other product attributes. A survey with a total of 4612 respondents from the Nordic countries explored consumers’ perceptions of attractiveness, healthiness, naturalness, tastiness and ability to reduce risk of disease by comparing ratings of products with and without health claims. Used claims varied in their benefit, active ingredient, claim structure and framing. The results showed that health claims had a moderate but mostly negative impact on the perception of other product attributes; the most significant impact was decrease in perceived naturalness. Consumers could also interpret the benefits in claims as intended. The wording of the claim had only small impact on the perception of the products, whereas earlier market presence of the ingredient had a large impact: differences among the Nordic countries reflected the previous exposure to health claims. The findings from this study suggest that consumers do not imply other health benefits from health claims and the health claim per se is not likely to cause any unrealistic positive inferences in perceived product quality.
On September 11, 2008, the Chinese government announced a recall of infant milk powder that was tainted by melamine, a chemical usually used in plastics. Consumption of melamine caused infants to develop kidney stones which, if left untreated, could cause renal failure and death. More than 290,000 people (most of them infant children) were poisoned and at least six babies are confirmed to have died from ingesting the melamine contaminated infant milk powder. The Chinese government imposed very high penalties on people and companies involved in the melamine scandal, including lifetime prison sentences and even executions. The problems in China’s dairy industry were a result of rapid growth fueled by large investments from multinational dairy firms, development of a highly modern and concentrated processing sector that obtained its raw materials from millions of small, poor and uneducated traditional farmers and government support and encouragement for growth but with little emphasis on inspection and safety issues. The melamine crisis prompted the Chinese government to bring in a new food safety law, mandate regular inspections of all companies involved in the food business with no exemptions and set new allowable tolerances for melamine in dairy products.
In this paper we investigate how consumers respond to the UK nutritional food label Traffic Light System (TLS). Employing a choice experiment (CE) we find that consumers appear to behave in a manner consistent with our expectations regarding the impact of the TLS. We identify a strong preference on the part of respondents to avoid a basket of goods containing a mix of foods with any “Red” lights. In addition, we find that consumers have a hierarchy of importance in terms of perception of the various nutrients examined and there are clear behavioural differences associated with particular socio-economic characteristics confirming early research on the use of nutrition labels. Overall our results indicate significant heterogeneity in the attitudes and responses of consumers to the TLS nutritional food labels within and across socio-economic strata.
We review evidence on the impacts of CGIAR research published since 2000 in order to provide insight into how successfully the CGIAR Centers have been in pursuing the System’s core missions. Our review suggests that CGIAR research contributions in crop genetic improvement, pest management, natural resources management, and policy research have, in the aggregate, yielded strongly positive impacts relative to investment, and appear likely to continue doing so. Crop genetic improvement research stands out as having had the most profound documented positive impacts. Substantial evidence exists that other research areas within the CGIAR have had large beneficial impacts although often locally and nationally rather than internationally. However, the “right-time, right-place” nature of successful policy research and the relatively limited geographic scale of much natural resource management research often limits the overall scale of impacts of these programmatic thrusts vis-à-vis genetic improvement research. We conclude that given the evidence available, the CGIAR’s portfolio of research allocations has become overly skewed toward natural resource management and policy research over time. Hence, restoring somewhat the share of resources allocated to crop genetic improvement is warranted. In addition, the CGIAR needs to prioritize impact assessment of resource management and policy research to deepen its understanding of the social and environmental impacts of its work.
The food miles concept, originating in the UK and given much prominence in the news media, has been used to imply that importing food from distant countries is inherently more wasteful than growing and consuming local produce. What impact is this potential non-tariff barrier having on consumer buying behaviour in UK supermarkets? Revealed preference surveys in four supermarkets show only 5.6% of 251 consumers nominated country-of-origin as one of the reasons for choosing a fresh food item they had just purchased. Furthermore, only 3.6% indicated that they had consciously chosen British products for the reason that such produce was “less harmful for the environment.” In contrast, stated preference surveys in the street found that 21.5% indicated that “food miles” or “the long distance it travels” would stop them buying New Zealand products. What people say may differ substantially from what they actually do in regard to “food miles.”
This paper examines the link between nutrition label use and consumers’ healthier food choices. Label use is considered for the two main types of labels currently found on food products; nutrition facts panels and nutrition/health claims. This link is tested using a three-equation multivariate probit model. Data were obtained from an ad hoc survey conducted in two medium-sized Spanish cities. The results indicate that the use of nutrition information by consumers, whether this involves the fact panel or the claim labels, does influence consumer choice of healthier food products to the same extent, although different types of consumers use the various types of labels considered.
While the poverty implications of off-farm income have been analyzed in different developing countries, much less is known about the impact of off-farm income on household food security and nutrition. Here, this research gap is addressed by using farm survey data from Nigeria. Econometric analyses are employed to examine the mechanisms through which off-farm income affects household calorie and micronutrient supply, dietary quality, and child anthropometry. We find that off-farm income has a positive net effect on food security and nutrition. The prevalence of child stunting, underweight, and wasting is lower in households with off-farm income than in households without. Using a structural model, we also show that off-farm income contributes to higher food production and farm income by easing capital constraints, thus improving household welfare in multiple ways.
Nearly 40% of the rice consumed in Africa is imported. That is about one third of all rice traded in world markets. With such high dependence on imports, Africa is highly exposed to international market shocks with sometimes grave consequences for its food security and political stability as attested by events during the 2008 food crisis. In this paper, it is argued that Africa can turn the rising trends in world markets to a historical opportunity to realize its large potential for rice production. After a review of the policy responses of African countries to the 2008 global rice crisis, the opportunities and challenges for enhancing domestic rice supply are discussed. The competitiveness of rice production in Africa is analyzed for selected countries and rice ecologies. The potential for increasing paddy production is illustrated using a spreadsheet simulation that considers alternative rice sector development scenarios. Reducing the yield gap and expanding cultivated rice areas under lowland and irrigated hold the greatest potential for substantially increasing paddy production in Africa.
Nutrient-dense foods that are associated with better health outcomes tend to cost more per kilocalorie (kcal) than do refined grains, sweets and fats. The price disparity between healthful and less healthful foods appears to be growing. This study demonstrates a new method for linking longitudinal retail price data with objective, nutrient-based ratings of the nutritional quality of foods and beverages. Retail prices for 378 foods and beverages were obtained from major supermarket chains in the Seattle, WA for 2004–2008. Nutritional quality was based on energy density (kcal/g) and two measures of nutrient density, calculated using the Naturally Nutrient Rich (NNR) score and the Nutrient Rich Foods index (NRF ). Food prices were expressed as $/100 g edible portion and as $/1000 kcal. Foods were stratified by quintiles of energy and nutrient density for analyses. Both measures of nutrient density were negatively associated with energy density and positively associated with cost per 1000 kcal. The mean cost of foods in the top quintile of nutrient density was $27.20/1000 kcal and the 4-year price increase was 29.2%. Foods in the bottom quintile cost a mean of $3.32/1000 kcal and the 4-year price increase was 16.1%. There is a growing price disparity between nutrient-dense foods and less nutritious options. Cost may pose a barrier to the adoption of healthier diets and so limit the impact of dietary guidance. Nutrient profiling methods provide objective criteria for tracking retail prices of foods in relation to their nutritional quality and for guiding food and nutrition policy.
This paper examines whether an integrated farm that owns both crops and livestock is more resilient under global warming than a specialized farm in crops. Using around 9000 farm surveys across Africa, we explore how farmers choose one of the farm types and how the net revenue of each type varies across the range of climate in Africa. The results indicate that an integrated farm increases in number while a specialized farm decreases across Africa under climate predictions for 2060. The relative profitability of each system against each other also changes. An integrated farm becomes relatively more profitable over specialized farms half a century from now. The impacts of climate change on integrated farms range from 9% loss to 27% gain depending on climate scenarios. Behavioral models can capture portfolio diversification benefits that agro-economic models cannot measure.
Over the past decade, policymakers have been searching for an appropriate blend of public and private sector roles to accelerate the intensification of food staple production, smallholder commercialization, and sustainable market development in sub-Saharan Africa. In Ethiopia, steps taken to liberalize markets in the 1990s and promote fertilizer and seed packages have yet to generate payoffs in terms of higher cereal yields, lower food prices, or reduced dependency on food aid. This raises concern about the performance of the agricultural sector, specifically in terms of the systems for providing improved seed, fertilizer, credit, and extension services. This paper examines the evolving roles of the public and private sectors in intensifying cereal production in Ethiopia. Findings suggest that while Ethiopia has an admirable record of supporting agriculture, its state-led policies has now outlived their usefulness. These findings for Ethiopia offer lessons that are potentially applicable to other sub-Saharan African countries facing similar challenges.
We analyze trends in crop yields and yield variability of barley, maize, oats, rye, triticale and wheat in Switzerland from 1961 to 2006. It shows that there have been linear increases in crop yields since the 1960s. However, yields of barley, oats, rye, triticale and wheat have leveled off in Switzerland since the early 1990s, which contrasts linear trends in cereal yields that is usually assumed for Europe. We show a relationship between the introduction of agricultural policy measures towards environmentally friendly cereal production that fostered widespread adoption of extensive farming practices and the observed leveling-off of crop yields. Thus, this paper emphasizes that agricultural policy can be an important reason for slowing crop yield growth. Agricultural policy measures will be one of the key driving forces of future crop yields. Thus, the potential leveling-off of crop yields that is indicated in this study should be considered in analyses of future land use and food supply as well as in the evaluation of agri-environmental measures and policy reforms.
The paper applies a quantitative methodology to study poverty and livelihood profiles on the basis of a large set of variables. It takes the context of post-conflict rural Rwanda for a case study. By means of exploratory tools (i.e. principal component and cluster analysis), it combines variables that capture natural, physical, human, financial and social resources together with environmental factors to identify household groups with varying livelihoods. The paper further explores how these clusters differ with regards the incidence of poverty, livelihood strategies and their respective crop preferences. The paper concludes that Rwandan rural policies should adopt distinct and appropriate interventions for impoverished peasant groups, each having their own particular livelihood profiles.
There are growing concerns over the safety of aquaculture food products from China, which supplies 70% of the world’s farmed fish food. We present a comprehensive literature review, supplemented with qualitative data obtained from interviews with experts in the field, to examine the policies and practices designed to ensure the safety of food produced by the Chinese aquaculture industry. The food safety system has many parts that are administered by different governmental organizations with poor coordination among them. The system apparently operates as two entities: one for products destined for the export market and based largely on the requirements of importing countries, and the other with lower standards and levels of enforcement for domestic market products. The top-down approach focuses more on the end product rather than the production practices. There are several indications that regulations pertaining to antibiotic use are not being followed. Recent events have brought the issue of overall food safety to the attention of the Chinese public and the Government is acting positively towards addressing deficiencies of the system. Chief among these is the Food Safety Law which comes into effect in June, 2009. But the central government must work in concert with provincial and local authorities to improve the infrastructure for inspecting and tracking food from farms to the end consumers to ensure a greater degree of safety of aquatic food for the Chinese population.
Biofortification, or the improvement of nutritional quality in food crops, is a promising strategy to combat undernutrition, particularly among the rural poor in developing countries. However, traditional methods of impact assessment are inadequate for biofortified crops, as they do not consider their nutritional benefits. Evidence for the nutritional impact of maize varieties with improved protein quality, collectively known as quality protein maize (QPM), was evaluated using meta-analysis of randomized, controlled studies in target communities. A new and generalizable effect size was proposed to quantify the impact of QPM on a key outcome, child growth. The results indicated that consumption of QPM instead of conventional maize leads to a 12% (95% CI: 7–18%) increase in the rate of growth in weight and a 9% (95% CI: 6–15%) increase in the rate of growth in height in infants and young children with mild to moderate undernutrition from populations in which maize is the major staple food. The proposed effect size and use of bootstrapping to determine statistical significance addressed some methodological limitations in the existing studies.
The development of supermarkets in Vietnam, as in other emerging countries, is accompanied by increasing consumer concern for food quality. This paper investigates whether farmer organizations are able to help small-scale farmers obtain access to supermarkets as well as examines the role that supermarkets and public support play in the emergence and development of these organizations. The paper is based on case studies of a number of stakeholders marketing vegetables, flavored rice and litchi fruit in Vietnam. Eight farmer groups operating in the form of private commercial organizations act as regular supermarket suppliers for the selected products. Their ability to supply supermarkets is related to the combination of functions they make available to their members, especially with regard to promoting and controlling quality for which they receive public support. Their participation in flexible contracts with supermarkets, shops and schools is also a key issue. Supplying supermarkets via farmer associations increases farmers’ profits per kilo compared to traditional chains, but the quantities supplied to supermarkets remain limited. The paper argues that changes in farmer organizations are not primarily due to supplying supermarkets, but rather to public and international support for food quality improvement which has been of benefit to supermarkets.
We deal with the link between innovation and market structure using the empirical example of the Danish agri-food industry. Vertical integration may resolve hold-up problems and here we test for the importance of vertical integration and networks on innovation. We further examine the effects of network relationships on innovation behaviour. We use data from an extensive survey of 444 Danish firms over two years, 2000 and 2005 to estimate a bootstrapped zero-inflated Poisson regression model. The first and most significant result is that organization matters. Further we find that vertical integration as well as contractual arrangements are significant determinants for firms’ innovation behaviour. The direction of integration is important as well. Also, economies of size seem to play an important role. Similarly, the export orientation of the firm is a significant determinant of innovation whereas the sector the firm is operating in is not significant for its innovation behaviour.