Category: Nicaragua -

21 June 2009 | Posted By: Ilana Martin

CEO Al Doerksen on “Food Security”

“More people than ever are victims of hunger” was the title of a just released FAO report. “For the first time in human history, more than one billion people are undernourished worldwide.”

Having worked in the food aid “industry” for some years, and having written extensively on “food security,” I am interested in what is really being said.

The report did not say one billion people are malnourished, although undernourishment can certainly lead to that. The report also did not say one billion people are starving — in technical terms, an acute form of hunger in which the body begins to actually feed on itself for nourishment. Thankfully, the report did not suggest that lack of food production or availability was the issue, although it was observed that “domestic staple foods still cost on average 24 percent more in real terms than two years back. The report did speak to a spike in food insecurity.

My favorite definition for food security is “access at all times to enough food to live an active healthy life.” FAO gets it right when they observe that the poor are less able to purchase (ie, access) food especially where domestic markets are still stubbornly high….”the incidence of both lower incomes due to the economic crisis and persisting higher food prices has proved to be a devastating combination.

So fundamentally IDE is a food security enterprise. Why is this true? Because of our focus on incomes (which provide access to food supplies/markets) and on agricultural production (which either increases direct access to food for consumption, or which increases local supply, which on a larger scale brings down prices).

In the report, several factors contributing to the widespread decrease in food security are listed, in particular those related to the global economic crisis:

• A 32 percent decline in foreign direct investment in developing countries
• A 5–8 percent decline in foreign remittances by foreign migrant workers
• A reduction of about 25 percent in official development assistance (ODA)
• Increases in risk premiums for lending money to developing countries
• Decrease of 5–9 percent in international trade (depending on whether you ask IMF or WTO)

Some of the countries mentioned in the report include Bangladesh, Ghana, Nicaragua, and Zambia, all countries in which IDE has a presence. See the full news bulletin here.

— Al Doerksen, CEO of IDE

19 June 2009 | Posted By: Ilana Martin

FAO: Increase in World’s Hungry

Some thoughts from Bruce McCrae, IDE VP/Asia:

Today the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) announced that, for the first time in human history, more than one billion people worldwide are suffering from hunger. This is a sobering, even frightening statistic. It’s also a dramatic reminder of why IDE’s mission is so important.

IDE’s PRISM methodology confronts the very structural basis of hunger by enabling poor rural households to increase their income through micro-irrigation, high-value crops and better access to the value chain. The increased income allows families to purchase food and to acquire improved inputs for their farm production. The hunger cycle is broken.

Today’s FAO press release has a table listing the main effects of the current economic crises and household responses in five sample countries. Four of the five are places where IDE has programs: Bangladesh, Ghana, Nicaragua and Zambia.

What are the FAO’s recommendations for solving the present crisis? Here is an excerpt:

“In the short term, small‐scale farmers must be given access to indispensable means of production and technologies ‐ such as high‐quality seeds, fertilizers, feed and farming tools and equipments ‐ that will allow them to boost production. … In the medium and long terms, the structural solution to the problem of hunger lies in increasing production particularly in low‐income food deficit countries.”

This is PRISM. This is exactly what IDE does. Let’s get on with it.

— Bruce McCrae, IDE VP/Asia

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