Food insecurity: Why global response focuses on more than generosity

Food insecurity is at the top of the global agenda to a degree it has not been since at least the 2008-09 crisis in food prices. Last week, G-7 leaders pledged $4.5 billion to address food shortages and help counter the impact Russia’s war in Ukraine is having on global food supplies and prices.

At the same time, USAID Administrator Samantha Power was promoting a longer term solution. She was in Zambia, where 1.2 million people are experiencing acute food insecurity, even though farmers already produce more than 80% of the country’s food needs.

Why We Wrote This

To address global food insecurity made worse by the Ukraine war, leaders and organizations are looking beyond mere aid, focusing on increased food production and improved supply chains to bolster nations’ resilience.

Experts are convinced that with the right seeds, better technology, and improved infrastructure, Zambian farmers can do much more than meet the central African country’s domestic food requirements. They have the potential to become a regional food powerhouse that can help feed neighboring countries.

World Food Program Chief Economist Arif Husain says higher food prices are making it more difficult for WFP and others to feed the growing number of hungry people, but the crisis is not yet one of supply. World leaders must act now, he says, to ensure that the crisis doesn’t turn into one of shrinking food stocks.

“It’s easier to respond now when it’s an affordability crisis,” he says, “and not letting it become an availability crisis.”

WASHINGTON

In Zambia – where more than half the population is undernourished, and 1.2 million people are experiencing acute food insecurity – farmers already produce more than 80% of the country’s food needs.

But Zambian and international agricultural and food-production experts are convinced that with the right seeds, better technology, improved storage and delivery infrastructure, and stronger climate resilience, the farmers can do much more.

That means not only meeting more of the central African country’s domestic food requirements. It means encouraging what experts say is its potential to become a regional food powerhouse that can help meet more of the food shortfalls in neighboring countries.

Why We Wrote This

To address global food insecurity made worse by the Ukraine war, leaders and organizations are looking beyond mere aid, focusing on increased food production and improved supply chains to bolster nations’ resilience.

Diversifying the world’s exportable food production beyond a few giant producers, and assisting farmers in ramping up production to meet more of their countries’ domestic needs, have gained new urgency as a result of Russia’s war in Ukraine – involving two of the world’s biggest food producers and exporters.

With the war largely eliminating the two countries’ wheat, oilseeds, and fertilizer production from global markets, supplies of staples have grown tight – sending food prices skyward everywhere.

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