Thursday, September 16, 2010

Food security, global hunger, local strategy

Food Security Risk Index 2010
With global wheat prices expected to spike following an export ban in Russia due to fires destroying millions of hectares of crops, a new study measuring global food security has identified the food supplies of Afghanistan and nine African states as the countries which are most at risk and vulnerable to rising costs.

The Food Security Risk Index 2010, released by risk analysis and rating firm Maplecroft, evaluates the risks to the basic food staples for 163 countries. It uses 12 criteria developed in collaboration with the World Food Programme, to calculate the ranking including: the nutritional and health status of populations, cereal production and imports, GDP per capita, natural disasters, conflict, and the effectiveness of government.

BBC News: A separate report from Action Aid estimates that hunger costs developing countries $450bn a year. The report says that 90% of these costs stem from lost productivity as a result of malnutrition, while the other 10% is due to higher health system costs... Higher wheat prices are also believed to have increased demand for other relatively cheaper foodstuffs, particularly other grains. And higher grain prices are pushing up the price of meat and dairy products as the cost of feeding livestock increases.

Vancouver Sun: Metro Vancouver has developed an ambitious regional food strategy that includes creating a centre for excellence in food technology, a label to identify locally grown foods in retail stores and a school for sustainable agriculture. The draft report notes that BC produces less than half the food that its citizens consume and that external forces such as changing climate and rising fuel prices will challenge our ability to feed ourselves in the future...

Regional Food System Strategy proposed that municipalities create property-tax exempt agricultural enterprise zones to encourage processing and distribution businesses to locate near farmland... To promote urban agriculture, the report suggests Metro purchase farmland in or out of the Agricultural Land Reserve to lease to new farmers and for use as farm schools... to keep viable farmland from being gobbled up by developers and non-farm uses... Metro could [also] convert more space in other regional parks to agricultural uses.
Image source here.