Monday, April 17, 2017

Connecting Farmers to City Dwellers - A Review of IFPRI's Global Food Policy Report 2017

Highlights from IFPRI's 2017 Food Policy Report: Part 1

Original link to the report is here:

How hungry is the world today? Are more people suffering from hunger today than 50 years ago? What can be done about the hunger that remains so visible in our world today? Where is work being done, and who can we look to for the best practices in solving this grand problem?

These are questions that the International Food Policy Research Institute’s (IFPRI) recently published Global Food Policy Report 2017 seeks to answer. Its meticulous efforts of gathering data now point to a positive trend! Global Hunger affects now 11 percent, down from 19 percent in 1990. While this is certainly progress, this 770+ million-strong collection of individuals still presents a major challenge to the international humanitarian landscape.

We spent some time reading through the IFPRI's report and wanted to highlight developments relevant to the shared mission of Agriculture and Food Security (AFS) team and USAID-funded Farmer-to-Farmer’s to ensure that no one goes hungry. In particular, we focused on food and agriculture developments in the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) region. The IFPRI seriously recommends more government investment into agricultural research and development across developing countries. More government support comes in the form of providing better equipment, upgrading food distribution policies, opening markets up to export, and subsidizing small-scale farmers to produce necessary crops and create a self-sufficient micro-businesses

“Climate change is part of the problem and the solution” – Alex De Pinto, IFPRI researcher

Some of the key highlights included progress against child stunting. For example, Peru rapidly reduced its child stunting from 28 percent to 18 percent in the span of four years (2008 to 2012). Another key highlight were the global effects falling prices, driven by new levels of maize and wheat agricultural productivity.

A major objective of the report was to identify urbanization as a major trend in shaping agricultural policy, especially in response to hunger and poverty. 167 countries adopted the New Urban Agenda and a further 132 mayors signed the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact. A further 60 countries committed $75 million towards the International Development Association, part of the World Bank. These alliances were created to address the 90% of the projected urban population growth that is concentrated in Africa and Asia. Latin American countries will only experience a fraction of this, as it is one of the most urbanized regions in the world. However, major challenges remain in the LAC region.

Urbanizing lifestyles have affected the distribution networks for food in Latin America. The report states that:

 “By the mid-2000s, super­markets controlled 30 to 50 percent of the food market in Southeast Asia, Central America, and Argentina, Chile, and Mexico. Supermarkets can offer a wide range of fresh produce, dairy prod­ucts, animal-source foods, and a host of processed foods.
Agricultural food networks have broadened within the countries that Partners of the Americas works. For example, recently, a volunteer to the Dominican Republic took inventory of prices of coffee in local markets and in superstores. A supermarket chain now exists in the country, and more effort needs to taken by both the Jarabacoa Cluster of Greenhouses and the government to market the small-scale agriculture community within the domestic markets before considering exportation to the United States.

Distribution networks are essential for both the urban consumer and the rural producer. F2F works with several rural enterprises to help develop their marketing techniques. Read last week’s article about Guatemalan coffee producer FECCEG’s marketing scheme:
Agriculture remains a vital source of employment for many LAC countries:

 “A recent analysis of 15 developing and transitional countries shows enormous variation in the share of urban households that participate in agriculture, ranging from 11 percent in Indonesia to 70 percent in Nicaragua and Vietnam. Still, urban agriculture accounts for only 5 to 15 percent of total agricultural production in the studied countries, and most households consume the food they produce rather than sell it. “
With ever more people living in cities, there is an ever increasing need to improve the connections to the countryside. This includes improved electrification, communication, and infrastructure. Organizations like the Global BrightLight foundation are among the organizations improving electrification. Read about them here:
The FAO estimates the significance that farmers have to the rest of the population. In the 1950s, one farmer was responsible for feeding up to 16 people. Today, due to changing job specializations and urbanization, farmers in some countries are responsible for feeding up to 200 people. Enhancing the linkages between the rural producers and the urban consumers aligns closely with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and the mission that the AFS team has. The IFPRI shows this trend in the graphic below.

Key components to these linkages are improved infrastructure. Rural infrastructure is only slowly being improved among the countries that Partners of the Americas works with including  Guatemala, Nicaragua, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic; however, multiple studies show that investment into these projects have demonstrable results on poverty alleviation and supply value chain flows.

Rural infrastructure is improving and rural poverty is declining. Despite these improvements over time, these trends are not reflected in cities. In 2014, 881 million people lived in slums in the developing world, an increase from 689 million in 1990. Urban growth in Latin America will not be fast as in Africa and Asia, as 73 – 82% of the population already is urbanized in most countries; however, urban poverty continues to grow. It remains unchanged at 13%. The emphasis on poverty alleviation in cities is vital. By 2020, 85% or more of Latin American people living in poverty will live in towns and cities, more than the 45% of the poor in Africa and Asia. Even more worrisome, by 2030, the number of slum residents in low- and middle-income countries is projected to reach 2 billion, with most living in Africa and Asia and in smaller cities.

Plans need to be set, and actions must be taken, and tailored policies are needed to target the urban poor.  For instance, already in Peru, 34% of the urban population lives in slums. This correlates with the higher incidence of hunger in these environments. Providing these linkages to poor urban dwellers is imperative for Latin American countries, especially since supermarkets now control 30-50% of the food market, but prices are still a serious burdensome for impoverished city dwellers

“Extremely poor urban house­holds in low income countries were found, on average, to spend more than 50 percent of their budget on food. Even in Guatemala, 48% of the budgets of urban poor were spent on food.”
So what actions can be taken? These are nine key recommendations according to the IFPRI:

IFPRI Recommendations for Urban Food Security
Tip #

Increase access of the urban poor to healthy, nutritious, and safe foods and stimulate demand for high-quality diets through targeted interventions and policies to create a more enabling environment for healthy choices


Promote and support urban agriculture to increase food access and allow urban dwellers to cope with price and income shocks, where space and conditions allow


Regulate the production of safe, affordable, and nutritious street foods; and provide regular food-safety trainings for informal food retailers and street food vendors


Support and manage the informal sector economy and harness its potential to protect the livelihoods of the poor and help them move out of poverty


Ease the trade-offs for working mothers by providing safe, affordable, and accessible childcare options


Design cost-effective, well-targeted social protection instruments to help the urban poor cope with income or price shocks and build assets


Address the severe inequalities in access of poor urban (and especially slum) dwellers to healthcare, water, sanitation, waste removal, and electricity services, and lift the access and utilization barriers faced by urban dwellers where services are available


Review policy options and adopt context-specific policies to regularize tenure in squatter settlements & slums


Provide opportunities for physical activity (to prevent overweight, obesity, and noncommunicable diseases) through smart urban development that eases access, affordability, and safety constraints related to recreational facilities and public transport

The IFPRI's recommendations bring up an important concept, healthful lifestyles. Among the challenges of providing low priced food options for impoverished urban dwellers is providing those citizens with healthful food options. According to the report, food diets have been significantly impacted by rising incomes and urbanization, where people are consuming more animal-sourced foods, including more red meats, and getting more access to sugars, processed foods, fats and oils, refined grains. The “nutrition transition,” as the report defined this problem, is a leading cause of obesity that is inextricably connected with rising diet-related diseases like diabetes and heart diseases.

Amidst the challenges of feeding the world, problems that those who have escaped hunger require more complexity. The numbers are staggering:

“The World Health Organization estimates that 1.9 billion people are now overweight or obese, and 1 in 12 people throughout the world have diabetes. These diseases are proving very costly: non-communicable diseases are expected to cost the global economy as much as $47 trillion in lost earnings and health bills over the coming two decades”
A commitment to promoting Healthful lifestyles will continue to be a part of Partners’ programs with in country partners in the future! Read more next time, as the IFPRI discusses climate, food productivity, and research and development.

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