Agriculture Reference
In-Depth Information
TABLE 4.1 Distribution of hunger in the world
Number of undernourished (millions)
Developed regions
Southern Asia
Sub-Saharan Africa
Eastern Asia
Southeastern Asia
Latin America and the Caribbean
Western Asia and Northern Africa
Caucasus and Central Asia
Source : derived from FAO (2012b).
undernourished has declined. The FAO reports that 32.8 percent of the African population
was undernourished in 1990-92 and in 2010-12 the percent is reported to be 26.8. Southern
Asia had similar rates of malnourishment in 1990-92, at 26.8 percent, but has reduced the
numbers of food insecure to 17.6 percent in 2010-12. There are significantly different capa-
cities to cope with economic and climatic shocks between these two regions that these statis-
tics mask. They are meant to reflect chronic undernourishment, and are not meant to capture
short-term changes due to price spikes or other short-term shocks. These shocks, however,
occur on top of existing food insecurity, thus looking at trends remains important.
The FAO prevalence of undernourishment indicator is defined solely in terms of dietary
energy availability and its distribution at the national level, and does not consider other aspects
of nutrition (FAO, 2012). The statistics given in Table 4.1 include the latest world population
data, and include new data from demographic, health and household surveys that include
revised estimates of food losses at the retail distribution level and for distribution of food
within a country. The estimates show that there has been better progress on reducing hunger
in the previous 20 years than previously believed, but that economic growth may not neces-
sarily result in better nutrition for all. Policies and programs that provide social protection and
increased access to safe drinking water, sanitation and health services will be required to meet
the needs of the poorest of the poor (Grosh et al ., 2008). Sustainable agricultural growth is
needed to reach the poor since many of the hungry live in rural areas and depend on agri-
culture for a significant part of their livelihoods (FAO, 2012).
Although the large increases in food prices after 2008 had a negative impact, they also
created positive incentives for increased investment in agriculture. The impact of the higher
cost of the food basket on the poorest parts of a population, many of whom are net food
buyers, is harder to see at the national level since improvements in overall calorie availability
(or malnutrition rates calculated by the FAO) can occur simultaneously with reductions in
consumption by the poorest segments of the population. There are winners and losers when-
ever there are large changes in the food system. The impact of much higher food prices on
food security for poor rural farmers is still unclear, but is likely to be negative unless these
farmers can produce enough food to have a significant surplus and have access to the market
to sell it (Hazell, 2013; Swinnen and Squicciarini, 2012; Von Braun, 2008).
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