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Food insecurity, poverty and agriculture: A concept paper








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    Book (series)
    The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2009
    Economic crises – impacts and lessons learned
    2009
    The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2009 presents the latest statistics on global undernourishment and concludes that structural problems of underinvestment have impeded progress toward the World Food Summit goal and the first Millennium Development Goal hunger reduction target. This disappointing state of affairs has been exacerbated by first the food crisis and now the global economic crisis that, together, have increased the number of undernourished people in the world to mo re than one billion for the first time since 1970. The report describes the transmission channels through which the economic crisis has affected developing countries and presents a series of country case studies that show how the poor are struggling to cope with a severe shock that is not of their own making. This crisis is different from the crises developing countries have experienced in the past, because it is affecting the entire world simultaneously, because it comes on top of a food crisis that has already strained the coping mechanisms of the poor, and because developing countries today are more integrated into the global economy than in past decades. In the context of the enormous financial pressures faced by governments, the twin-track approach remains an effective way to address growing levels of hunger in the world. Stepping up investment in the agriculture sector, especially for public goods, will be critical if hunger is to be eradicated. In additio n, safety nets designed to protect the most poor and food-insecure are an essential complement to such investment because the poorest should be given the opportunity to feed themselves now, even if the full impact of longer-term investment has not yet been realized.
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    Book (series)
    The State of Food and Agriculture, 2005
    Agricultural trade and poverty can trade work for the poor?
    2005
    Can trade work for the poor? The State of Food and Agriculture 2005 examines the many ways trade and trade liberalization affect the poor and food-insecure. It is found that trade can be a catalyst for change, promoting conditions that enable the poor to raise their incomes and live longer, healthier and more productive lives. But because the poor often survive on a narrow margin, they are particularly vulnerable in any reform process, especially in the short run as productive sectors and labour markets adjust. Opening national agricultural markets to international competition especially from subsidized competitors before basic market institutions and infrastructure are in place can undermine the agriculture sector with long-term negative consequences for poverty and food security. Among the many important lessons from this analysis is the need for policy-makers to consider carefully how trade and complementary policies can be used to promote pro-poor growth. The report recommends a twin-track approach: investing in human capital, institutions and infrastructure to enable the poor to take advantage of trade-related opportunities, while establishing safety nets to protect vulnerable members of society.
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    Working with local institutions to support sustainable livelihoods 2003
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    This paper summarizes the research findings and policy implications of a research project undertaken by the Rural Institutions and Participation Service (SDAR) of FAO entitled "Rural Household Income Strategies for Poverty Alleviation and Interactions with the Local Institutional Environment". The research was undertaken to gain a greater understanding of the linkages between household livelihood strategies, incomes and the local institutional environment, and how these linkages may change over time. Building on three country studies in India, Mozambique and Mexico, the research focused on informal economic institutions associated with household access to land, labour, markets and capital, as well as those providing a social safety net. The paper argues that local institutions, however "imperfect", are providing essential goods and services to the rural poor and vulnerable groups, particularly in the absence of well-functioning markets, local governments and safety nets. Therefore , great caution should be taken not to destroy these institutions and networks in the name of "development". It also argues that homogeneous and heterogeneous local institutions play different but complementary roles in rural societies. While the former are more inclusive, the latter may be more effective at moving the poor upward and potentially out of poverty. In conclusion, the paper calls for policy-makers and practitioners concerned with rural poverty to: 1) allocate additional resources an d time to understanding, strengthening, capacity building and partnering with local institutions, and 2) provide a supportive legislative and regulatory framework in which local institutions can thrive and assume greater responsibilities.

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