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Global hunger report

Oct 11, 2011

Increased private investments by farmers, greater policy predictability and general trade openness are more effective than export bans to streamline soaring food prices, reveals The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2011, a joint report by FAO, IFAD and WFP.

 The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2011 (SOFI)

Published by: UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), World Food Programme (WFP)

Small, import-dependent countries, particularly in Africa, are especially at risk.  Many of them still face severe problems following the world food and economic crises of 2006-2008, says the report.


Price volatility makes both smallholder farmers and poor consumers increasingly vulnerable to poverty while short-term price changes can have long-term impacts on development, the report found. Changes in income due to price swings that lead to decreased food consumption can reduce children's intake of key nutrients during the first 1000 days of life from conception, leading to a permanent reduction of their future earning capacity and an increased likelihood of future poverty, with negative impacts on entire economies.

Never acceptable

Even if the MDG were achieved by 2015 some 600 million people in developing countries would still be undernourished. Having 600 million people suffering from hunger on a daily basis is never acceptable.

The entire international community must act today and act forcefully to banish food insecurity from the planet, the report suggests.

Governments must ensure that a transparent and predictable regulatory environment is in place, one that promotes private investment and increases farm productivity. We must reduce food waste in developed countries through education and policies, and reduce food losses in developing countries by boosting investment in the entire value chain, especially post-harvest processing. More sustainable management of our natural resources, forests and fisheries are critical for the food security of many of the poorest members of society.

Long-term investment

Meanwhile, stronger economies and high food prices present incentives for increased long-term investment in the agricultural sector, which can contribute to improved food security in the long run.  When farmers react to higher prices with increased production it is essential to build on their short-term response with increased investment in agriculture, with emphasis on initiatives that support smallholders, who are the main food producers in many parts of the developing world.

At the same time, targeted safety nets are crucial for alleviating food insecurity in the short term. They must be designed in advance in consultation with the most vulnerable people. 

The report stresses that investment in agriculture remains critical to sustainable, long-term food security. Key areas where such investments should be directed are cost-effective irrigation, improved land-management practices and better seeds developed through agricultural research.  That would help reduce the production risks facing farmers, especially smallholders, and mitigate price volatility.

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