The world today faces enormous challenges, including the threats of rapidly increasing instability, conflict, and migration as a result of inadequate food supplies and water scarcity.
To combat these threats, a commitment to global food and nutrition security is more important than ever
The United States—together with its allies—has never been better equipped to expand its historical commitment to food and nutrition security.
A US commitment to global food security will:
Protect America’s national security
Open up new business opportunities and partnerships in emerging economies
Enable millions of rural families to permanently climb out of hunger and poverty
Food security promotes national security
Food price–related unrest can have an immense impact on the stability of countries vital to US interests, as food price shocks can lead to both nonviolent and armed conflict.
Food prices and food-related protests, 1990-2015
Extreme food price volatility correlates with the occurrence of food-related protests and riots.
Source: Hendrix, 2016. Food price data are from the FAO. Protests and riots data are from the World Bank Food Price Crisis Observatory (2015) and only cover 2007-14.
Food insecurity can also be a powerful driver for migration...
Food security promotes economic growth and new markets
Global growth creates stronger markets for American goods and services. As economies grow, so does their demand for products.
Rising incomes and changing diets in low-income countries are leading to demand for more and increasingly diverse as well as more nutritious foods.
Growing demand is not limited to the food and agriculture sector. Today, low- and middle-income countries account for half of the global economy, and they purchase more than half of US exports.
In Africa alone, the value of the agriculture and food sector is expected to reach $1 trillion by 2030.
Agricultural development spurs improvements in health and well-being
Low- and middle-income countries have made unprecedented gains in hunger and poverty alleviation in the last few decades, and agricultural development has been at the heart of this progress.
1 Billion Have Moved Out of Poverty
Agricultural production has, on average, almost doubled in low- and middle-income countries since 1995, and more than one billion people had been lifted out of poverty. The share of chronically hungry has dropped from 23% to 13% in low- and middle-income countries.
2x as Effective as Reducing Poverty as Investments in Other Sectors
Investments in agricultural development are highly cost-effective and have been proven to be more than twice as effective at reducing poverty as investments in other sectors.
Current challenges must be met
While great progress has been made, obstacles loom large.
A large and increasing share of populations in much of Africa and South Asia will be comprised of adolescents and young adults—known as a “youth bulge.” A thriving food and agriculture sector, while by no means a silver bullet, can offer a source of employment throughout agricultural supply chains.
Average age 21-24
Average age 18-20
Average age <18
By 2050 more than half of the world’s population will live in water-stressed areas, and about a billion or more people will have insufficient water resources.
The global population is growing rapidly and will reach 8 billion by 2024 and 10 billion by 2056. Average cereal yields required in low-yield countries will need to increase to meet demand.
The consequences of inattention to these challenges are catastrophic
Hunger, poverty, displacement, and instability have tremendous national and global implications, as current trends make clear.
20+ million people
in four countries alone are currently at risk of famine and starvation.
65.3 million people
worldwide are currently displaced.
Years of drought
preceded conflict in Syria, which left numerous Syrian farmers without food or income, and added fuel to the coming crisis.
The United States must strengthen its commitment to ending hunger and malnutrition
The crises and challenges facing the world and threatening food and nutrition security continue to call for action by the US government. Now is the time to commit to the leadership necessary to achieve a food-secure world.
1. Make global food and nutrition security a pillar of US diplomatic and national security engagement.
2. Prioritize public research investments to unlock innovation.
3. Amplify the power of the private sector to transform food and nutrition security.
4. Ensure efficiency in assistance programs and build countries’ capacity.
Chicago Council on Global Affairs
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