Assignment: Whitepaper on Food Security
The members of the United Nations found great value in the whitepaper you provided on population growth. They are now asking you to expand the whitepaper to include global food security as it relates to population growth and poverty. Read the overview and provide an assessment based on the questions below.
We can define global food security as the effort to build food systems that can feed everyone, everywhere, and every day by improving its quality and promoting nutritional agriculture (1). That said, there are certain practices that can advance this project:
1. Identifying the underlying causes of hunger and malnutrition
2. Investing in country-specific recovery plans
3. Strengthening strategic coordination with institutions like the UN and the World Bank
4. Encouraging developed countries to make sustained financial commitments to its success
We must bear in mind that more than 3 billion people-nearly one-half of the world's population-subsist on as little as $2.50 a day, with nearly 1.5 billion living in extreme poverty on less than $1.25 a day. According to the World Health Organization, the United Nations, and other relief agencies, about 20,000 people (mostly children) starve to death in the world every day, for a total of about 7 million people a year. In addition, about 750 million (twice the population of the United States) do not have access to clean drinking water, meaning that some one million people die every year from diarrhea caused by water-borne diseases.
The earth's population has grown since it reached 7 billion in 2010. It is expected to reach 8 billion in 2025, 9 billion in 2040, and 11 billion by the end of the 21st century (2). If the demand for food is predicted to rise 50% by 2030 and 70% by 2050, the real problem is not necessarily growing enough food, but rather making that amount available to people. Moreover, food illnesses are prevalent, with nearly 600 million reported cases of foodborne diseases each year. These mainly affect children but can also negatively impact the livelihood of farmers, vendors, trade associations, and ultimately, can reduce the Gross Domestic Product (national income) of a country. These issues can impose tremendous human, economic, social, and fiscal costs on countries, so addressing them allows governments to devote more resources to making desperately needed infrastructure improvements that raise the quality of life for everyone.
It is not enough to have adequate supplies of food available. Policies that focus exclusively on food production can exacerbate the problem, particularly if, to satisfy the need for quantity, the quality of the food is left wanting.
Reasons for Food Insecurity
Certainly, poverty and the contributing systemic internal conditions are the driving factors behind keeping adequate food resources from reaching people, but it is only one of several. Others are discussed next.
Inadequate Food Distribution: The reality is that there is more than enough food in the world to feed its people, but the primary cause of famine is not poor weather conditions as much as it is getting the food to the people who need it most. Quite often, disruptions in food distribution result from political instability and poor infrastructure (such as poorly functioning port facilities, lack of transportation options, and inadequate road networks). Paradoxically, although the world's population is increasing, the amount of potential food available will increase along with it, due mostly to advances in bio-agricultural engineering and seed immunity to molds.
Writing in the late 18th century, Thomas Malthus warned that the global population would exceed the earth's capacity to grow food, in that while the population would grow exponentially, food production would grow only arithmetically. Although this theory was proved invalid, its propagation has unfortunately resulted in some governments rationalizing political choices that avoid helping the poverty-ridden and starving.
Political-Agricultural Practices: The widespread use of microbiological, chemical, and other forms of pesticides in food continues to be a serious issue throughout the global food chain. Widespread use of fertilizers also causes illness in millions of people every year, not only from the food itself, but from run-off into streams and rivers, contaminating entire water supplies. The human, social, fiscal, and economic costs of such practices impede improvements not only in the raising of crops, but in their distribution. Added to this, the rising demand in developed countries for biofuels, refined mostly from corn and soybean, reduces the amount of arable land devoted to producing food.
The failure of many farmers in the developing world to rotate their crops harms the replenishing of nutrients necessary to continue growing crops. In addition, neglecting to allow land to remain fallow exhausts the soil, making it much more difficult to raise a decent amount of food per acre the following growing season.
Economic Issues: The fact is, government policies that focus on growing cash crops, for example, are designed solely to export them to earn foreign exchange. This may be fine for the government in its effort to earn money, but the result is that farmers end up growing for foreign markets and not domestic ones, leading to shortages of necessary staples. Consequently, the poorest of the population are frozen out of the local markets because they cannot afford the food that remains to be sold (3).
Civil Strife: Civil war can interrupt the flow of food from gathering depots, such as ports, to distribution centers where it can be handed out to people. During the 1990s, Somalia was particularly hard hit by their civil war, as clans fought for control of the main port at Mogadishu, which affected the flow of food to the rest of the population. In this case, as with many civil wars, whoever controls the supply of food controls the country. In failed and failing states like Zimbabwe, Congo, Haiti, South Sudan, Yemen, and Libya, food is very often another weapon used by one segment of the population against another.
1. Peter Timmer. 2015. Food Security and Scarcity: Why Ending Hunger Is So Hard. Foreign Affairs magazine.
2. The United Nations Population Division. 2017. World Population Prospects: The 2017 Revision.
3. Will Martin. November 2010. Food Security and Poverty: A Precarious Balance. Let's Talk Development blog by The World Bank.
The issue is not the lack of food in the world, but the access to food. In many developing countries, the food shortage is due to governmental control over food. These governments maintain control and preference by limiting access of nutritious food to certain groups, thereby weaponizing food.
In this second assignment, research the impact of poverty on global food security and the potential technological solutions. Write a minimum of four pages (not including the cover letter) assessing the impact of food insecurity. Select one country from the United Nations list of developing countries to use as an example throughout your assessment. The completed version of this assignment will include the following items:
• Cover page: Include your name, title of course, name of the developing country you have chosen from the UN list, current date, and the name of your instructor.
• Introduction: Introduce the topic of the whitepaper (half-page minimum).
• One-page (minimum) answers to each of the following questions (for a total of three pages):
• What is food insecurity, and what role does population growth play in it?
• What specific factors interrupt the flow of food from the source to the people in the developing country you selected?
• What forms of technology can be used to reduce hunger and improve food security? Explain how these technological solutions would work.
Note: Give examples in your responses to each of the above questions as it relates to the developing country you have chosen.
• Conclusion: A one-half page (minimum) conclusion.