Food security is an aspect of people’s ability to easily access food and the availability of it in the market. The United Nations’ Committee on World Food Security defines food security as the ability of people to meet their requirements for food and the ability of food markets to provide it.
It is perceived by many that food security refers to the ability of people to afford a particular food item and meet its consumption. The ability of food markets to provide food items at affordable prices is what the definition of food security refers to.
In most cases, food insecurity can be traced to a rise in the price of basic food items such as food grains, cereals, pulses, oil, and vegetables. Sometimes, a rise in these commodities can be attributed to the sometimes unexpected failure of food processors, suppliers, or traders to meet demand.
More often than not, a combination of supply and demand forces are the culprits behind food inflation or food scarcity. When supply is constrained, prices rise to unprecedented levels.
When supply is high, it tends to reduce prices
The combination of poor weather conditions, political turmoil, increasing urbanization, and unemployment have led to an increase in food insecure situations throughout the developing world. The effects of these events can be devastating to ordinary citizens living in poverty.
The rapid spread of food illness and the inability of local food processors and suppliers to keep pace with rising demand have resulted in the displacement of millions of people and the death of millions more. For some people, the impact has been so catastrophic that survival has become a remote possibility.
The global food crisis is felt most acutely in the developing world
Millions of children are affected by food shortages. Millions more are at risk of developing life-threatening diseases due to lack of nutrition. In addition to affecting the children directly, food insecurity has ripple effects on the family unit.
Spouses and parents who are struggling to put food on the table for their children and struggling to pay the rising cost of staple foodstuffs are being pushed to the margins of survival.
While there are many ways to address food security issues, the solutions must begin with governments at the local, regional, and national levels. Developing a food security strategy that addresses both the immediate and long term needs of people is essential.
It will require a strategic approach that takes into consideration how people get food, how they prepare it, how they store it, and how they access food when they need it most. Developing food security plans for any nation is only possible if the government begins from the grassroots level, beginning with its citizens.
One solution for addressing the food crisis is food aid
The provision of food assistance has become a major international concern since the recent spike in food prices. However, food aid alone will not bring an end to food insecurity in the developing world. Effective food security programs must also be developed to address both the immediate and long-term effects of food shortages.
One solution to the food crisis is the development of better storage facilities for food
In the developing countries that have experienced a food crisis, some families are now developing their own storage capacity to ensure that in an emergency, they have access to food.
Other countries have begun to invest in infrastructure to provide more affordable and convenient methods for storing food. Another solution, developing countries can explore is the development of systems that allow for the safe shipping of food.
Developing more efficient and accessible public transport systems will allow many people in developing countries to have the ability to access food at more affordable costs.
Improved sanitary conditions and increased road and rail infrastructure will allow people to access food more quickly in case of an emergency. Another solution, developing countries can pursue is the reduction of calories in the food supply by replacing sugary grains with more nutritious ones such as millet or sorghum.
The reduction of calories and increase in the nutritional value of foods will reduce the dependency on crops such as wheat, which is highly vulnerable to pests and disease. Creating more stable exchange rates for food will help alleviate the financial burden of importing food.