Knowledge for Development

Food security

Millennium Development Goal number one is to eradicate extreme hunger and reduce poverty by half by 2015. At the World Food Summit in 1996, 180 nations discussed ways to end hunger. Five years later, they met again to monitor progress. According to the State of Food Insecurity in the World 2006 report, today’s estimated 820 million undernourished people in developing countries represent a marginal reduction of three million as against the early nineties baseline of 823 million used by the Summit. There are significant disparities among regions; Asia and the Pacific and Latin America and the Caribbean have seen an overall reduction in both the number and prevalence of undernourished people. Sub-Saharan Africa is worse off. What can be done to meet the World Food Summit’s target? What role do Science and Technology play in achieving food security? What response is needed from policymakers? This dossier focuses attention to these questions. This dossier has been prepared by KIT (J. Sluijs) in collaboration with CTA (J.A. Francis) - September 2007.

This note from the US Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service, explains how the recently passed (2011) Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) embodies a farm-to-fork, preventive approach that reflects an established scientific/managerial consensus on how to improve food safety systems (i.e. a more comprehensive Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) process). It argues for more research on food safety initiatives similar to the HACCP process to help guide implementation of the Act. It presses the importance of a positive relationship between scientists and policy makers for more relevant regulations in the food industry. 01/05/2012
This news report by Nature explains the importance of fertilizers in keeping Africa’s soils nourished and the action taken by decision-makers. Fertilizers make a profound difference because the rusty red soil, as in many parts of Africa, is deficient in organic matter and in key nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus. African governments, international donors and scientists agree that farmers must revitalize their soils, but don’t on the best way to tackle the challenge. Many African governments and agricultural scientists argue that large doses of inorganic fertilizers are the most practical solution. But others are pushing for greener, cheaper solutions, such as no-till farming that conserves soil and 'fertilizer plants' that boost the soil's nitrogen content organically. Researchers report that these latter techniques are beginning to raise yields and improve soil fertility. But farmers are slow to adopt such practices, which require significantly more labour. The report gives an extensive overview of the latest efforts in soil conservation and examines governments and NGOs answers to the problem. (Nature, 29/03/2012) 10/04/2012
The overall objective of PURE is to provide practical IPM solutions to reduce dependence on pesticides in selected major farming systems in Europe, thereby contributing to a reduction of the risks to human health and the environment and facilitating the implementation of the pesticides package legislation while ensuring continued food production of sufficient quality. PURE will provide integrated pest management (IPM) solutions and a practical toolbox for their implementation in key European farming systems (annual arable and vegetable, perennial, and protected crops) in which reduction of pesticide use and better control of pests will have major effects. 29/02/2012

Science and Technology in improving food and nutrition security

by Dr Huub Löffler , Ir Niels Louwaars
In the last century, the rapid global population growth gave rise to serious concern about the ability of agriculture to feed humanity. The application of new technologies, however, showed that both the labour and land productivity could be increased dramatically. Figure 1 shows that the rapid increase in grain production in the Netherlands goes hand in hand with a dramatic decrease in the labour force. This exemplifies the potential of science and technology (S&T) for increasing food production and improving food security. 10/09/2007

Achieving Food Security

by Prof. Richard M. Mkandawire
Although Africa has made significant strides poverty and hunger persist. The African Union (AU) estimates that 27 percent of Africans are under-nourished, representing a 2 percent decline since 1995. FAO (2004) reported that many sub-regions of Africa had made remarkable progress in reducing hunger, except in the Central African region, where the number of under-nourished people increased to 56% against 36% in the early 1990s (Table 1). Consequently, the estimated absolute number has risen from 176 million to 210 million; since Africa’s total population has increased from 589 million to 764 million over the same period. 10/09/2007