Almost 870 million people around the world have too little to eat or are malnourished, the result of a number of factors. These include population growth and volatile food, transportation, and agricultural costs, as well as a struggling economy and reduced global investment in food and agricultural development.
For the men, women, and children who are hungry, a lack of access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food will influence their health and limit their ability to learn in school and earn a living. It's a central obstacle to reducing poverty.
According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, food security exists when people are able to access enough safe and nutritious food to live a healthy life.
This food can be produced domestically, imported, or arrive through food assistance.
How many are affected? Prior to the 2008-2009 food and fuel crises, more than 923 million individuals did not have access to sufficient safe and nutritious food. In 2009, the number of people worldwide suffering from hunger reached 1.02 billion, or one-sixth of the world's population.
Who are they? Many of the 870 million individuals that have too little to eat are small-scale farmers living in rural areas, including women and children. At the same time, worldwide, 500 million small-scale farmers support more than two billion individuals, or one third of all humanity. In many developing countries, particularly in Africa and Asia, small-scale farmers, the majority of whom are women, produce 80 percent of the food consumed.
Because women account for a large proportion of agricultural production in the developing world, they are particularly important agents of economic development and food security.
What are the present challenges? From national and regional perspectives, governments must strengthen their ability to address food security. Examples of important factors limiting improvements to food security include:
In global terms, the evolving financial crisis and economic recession continue to aggravate the stability of food systems.
Within the Food Security Strategy for developing countries, Canada will focus on three priorities:
Worldwide, more deaths are attributable to hunger and malnutrition than to HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis. In terms of addressing the food needs of vulnerable and high-risk populations, emergency food assistance, social safety nets, and nutrition are examples of key interventions that contribute to addressing food insecurity. Where food assistance and nutrition are concerned, Canada will:
Canada's work to improve access to sufficient quantities of nutritious food and enhance the quality and effectiveness of food assistance and nutrition programming will result in more lives saved and better overall health.
Most poor people living in rural areas earn their income from agriculture, which according to the 2008 World Development Report is two to four times more effective in reducing poverty than investments in other sectors. Where sustainable agricultural development is concerned, Canada's Food Security Strategy for developing countries will:
These measures to address sustainable agricultural development will translate into progress on many fronts: more small rural farmers will increase their agricultural production, and partner governments will develop stronger policies, make their institutions more accountable and design better processes to provide stable local sources of nutritious food.
As investments in agricultural research and development have declined over the past 30 years, so too has growth in global agricultural productivity. Based on present estimates that global food production must increase by 70 percent by 2050, investments in agricultural research and development are essential if production is to keep pace with the increasing demand.
As a significant donor to the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, and through contributions from Canadian academics and non-government organizations, Canada is putting its considerable experience in agricultural research and development to use on a global scale by sharing knowledge and resources with developing countries.
Canada's Food Security Strategy for developing countries will contribute to research and development efforts by:
These measures will give farmers in partner countries better access to the new technologies and specialized expertise they need for their farming operations to keep pace with the growing demand for food.
As long as hunger and malnutrition persist, the world's poorest will struggle to live long and healthy lives. Canada's Food Security Strategy for developing countries will address the problem by using every dollar to bring long-lasting benefits to those who need help in breaking out of poverty and meeting basic needs.
In the short-term, the strategy will increase food security by improving access to high-quality and nutritious food.
Medium- and long-term, it will aim to improve agricultural research and development, but also help more people access adequate, safe, and nutritious food.
Canada will review its progress against the Food Security Strategy and report this progress and any lessons learned on a regular basis. All activities associated with the development and implementation of this strategy complies with the Official Development Assistance Accountability Act.
Canada's Food Security Strategy (PDF, 280 KB, 9 pages)
Canada's Aid Effectiveness Agenda:Increasing Food Security (PDF, 424 KB, 3 pages)
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