There are lots of definitions of food security; chronic and temporal, capturing different indices like quality, period, access, etc. According to United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UNFAO), “food security is when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food which meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.”
Wow! This definition, will include a lot of us in the bracket. But some cases are more severe. The definition that captures my interest, however, is that given by Nikki Calhoun on Quora forum. He defined food insecurity instead, and he said, “Food insecurity is wondering ‘if’ you will eat.” In this, starvation and survival emerge. Nigeria was ranked 40th out of 79 on the 2012 Global Hunger Index, (IFPRI).
To build a resilient economy, we have to reduce the number of people who wonder if they will eat and we cannot do that, on a sustainable basis, by giving them food every day or during campaigns. For me, food security is the availability and affordability of quality food. It is a state of existence without fear of starvation.
We must give people the capability to create their own food which makes it automatically affordable and accessible. According to FAO, increase in food production does not translate into reduced food insecurity. This, I believe, is because food insecurity doesn’t exist in isolation; it is a function of income status and a lot of other factors.
Consequent upon that, where there is a monopoly of production, as a function of capital or capability, insecurity is not eliminated by increased production.
For people to be food secure, 1. they should possess the capacity and capital to produce their own food, first, on a subsistence level and then commercial; 2. There should be effective price control through cost minimization and finally, 3, there has to be efficient storage to regulate possible fluctuations in demand and supply.
To build a stable stomach infrastructure, therefore, 1. Government should invest and encourage investment in agriculture. 2. Government should invest in agricultural capacity building, across all points in the agricultural value chain. All is emphasized here. 3. But, most importantly, especially in the Nigerian case, engage with agricultural engineers and their stakeholders, to foster research and engineering, targeted towards optimizing our agriculture.
From the article on hunger is a tool of war, we excerpt:
Hunger is a tool of war; not just war against human life but also against national building. In hunger, morality is subservient to survival; a hungry man rationalizes towards a ration; and any reformation on empty stomach is on sinking sand.
Starve them to manipulate them. Praise the Lord is not for an empty stomach. In the midst of all these maxims, “Don’t sell your vote” is only as morally sensible as survival is.
A sustainable development and security of the stomach infrastructure is the foundation of every reformation or infrastructural development. Any nation that wants to foster economic development must, first, secure the stomach.
Without food security, values will be exchanged for food. Our true votes won’t count.
Uja, Chigozie Joy is an agricultural engineer and a writer. She is passionate about optimizing Africa’s agropotential and blogs about it on Agroven’s website and RAEP facebook group.