Food Insecurity Meaning, Causes, Effects, and Importance Explained

Food Insecurity is a condition of low or irregular access to food supplies, that is caused by both natural and manmade factors.

This article discusses the following important concepts;

1). Food Insecurity Meaning

2). Food Insecurity Vs Hunger

3). Types of Food Insecurity

4). Causes of Food Insecurity

 5). How Does Climate Change Affect Food Insecurity?

6). Food Insecurity Examples

7). Effects of Food Insecurity

8). Children and Food Insecurity

9). Gender Issues in Food Insecurity

10). Solutions to Food Insecurity

 

 

 

 

 

Food Insecurity vs Hunger

While hunger is one of the most common outcomes of food insecurity, the two terms are not necessarily equal to each other in meaning or context.

The following table briefly compares the two terms;

Food Insecurity Hunger
This is a state of reduction or disruption of eating pattern Is a state of need or desire of food
Is usually driven by food availability and accessibility Is solely driven by a momentary lack of sufficient food
Is an economic and political phenomenon Is a more physical phenomenon
Is defined by inadequacy of resources Is defined by physical discomfort

 

We may choose to view food insecurity as a low or very-low level of food security. In other words, we may describe food insecurity in an of the following ways;

1). Reduced variety and quality of diet

2). Reduced amount of food intake

3). Disrupted patterns of eating

 Also, the duration of food insecurity may vary between short and long-term categories. Different factors lead to this problem, such as unemployment, disability, and income levels. These will be discussed later in this article.

 

What Food Insecurity Represents

The access to food is a major issue with respect to this topic. It may be affected by neighborhood conditions.

An example of this is the fact that individuals who live in low-income regions, and some urban and rural regions may not be able to access grocery outlets or afford quality (and adequate) food. Some regions may also lack nutritious and affordable food for consumption by the human population [25].

In another scenario, the access to quality and affordable food may be affected by distance and transportation challenges [8]. Residents in areas where grocery stores and markets are located at great distance from residential quarters, are likely to experience food insecurity. This becomes even worse when transportation facilities and options are lacking.

People affected by food insecurity are mostly those who are unable to live a flexible life. These include low-income-earners, ill, aged, and disabled people. However, we can predict that all groups of individuals are also at the risk of food insecurity.

This is because of complex factors such as economic, political and regional conditions [4]. Such factors as these may manifest at any point in time.

Other Definitions of Food Insecurity

It is also possible for us to define food insecurity as a lack of adequate and consistent access to quality food for a healthy and active life.

From an economic point of view, it may be seen as a lack of sufficient resources to obtain quality and adequate food.  

The problem of food security may be experienced at the individual, family, or community levels. A large population of individuals and families lack adequate resources to meet their basic needs.

It has also been found that food insecurity is not always directly related to poverty. While most of the population affected by food insecurity lives below the poverty line, some live above it. Similarly, some people who live below the poverty line, especially in rural areas, do not experience food insecurity [10].

Low food security usually occurs alongside other challenges such as health problems, homelessness, low-income levels, social isolation and low access to medical care.

Types of Food Insecurity

Basically, food insecurity is dependent on some key factors. These include food availability, food stability, food accessibility, and food utilization.

We can categorize food insecurity into different types, especially on the basis of the level of severity of the condition. The types include;

Mild or Minimal Food Insecurity

Chronic, Stressed or High Food Insecurity, and

Acute or Very High Food Insecurity

The three types are compared in the following table;

 

Type Characteristics/Conditions Main Affected Groups Main Affected Regions
MINIMAL FOOD INSECURITY Usually involves a lack of access to preferred or needed food

May be caused by changes in food production and supply patterns

Does not involve a general lack of access to food

Is not generally accompanied by hunger or starvation

Middle-income level Individuals

High-Income level Individuals

Urban

Semi-Urban

CHRONIC FOOD INSECURITY Involves a lack of access to preferred and sufficient food

Is usually due to economic and financial challenges

Is often related to financial lack and low-income conditions

Is generally associated with various forms of hunger, but not usually with starvation

Middle-income level Individuals

Low-income level Individuals

Urban

Semi-Urban

Rural

ACUTE FOOD INSECURITY Is the most severe form of food insecurity

Characterized by absolute unavailability of sufficient food supply

Is often caused by economic and political problems

Is associated with hunger and starvation. Also associated with other social challenges like homelessness, illness, conflict and isolation

May affect all categories of individuals when it occurs

High-income level Individuals

Middle-income level Individuals

Low-income level Individuals

Urban

Semi-urban

Rural

 

Causes of Food Insecurity: What causes Food Insecurity?

In order to understand how food security occurs, we must consider its causes.

Food Insecurity is determined mainly by two factors. These are as follows;

– Food Availability

Basically, this refers to the production or supply of food through domestic agriculture, relief or importation. Food availability may also be described as the amount of food which is present in a region [16].

– Food Accessibility

Other terms which we can use in place of ‘accessibility’ here, include Attainability and Affordability. Food accessibility refers to the social, economic and physical access to food [11].

These two factors also form the ideology behind the overall concept of Food Security. We can therefore define Food Security itself, as follows;

Food security is the measure of the availability and accessibility of food to individuals in any given region [24].

Availability and Accessibility are referred to as Pillars of Food Security, alongside Stability and Utilization. Stability here refers to the ability of individuals to access food on a consistent basis, while utilization refers to the manner in which the available food is consumed [34].

Pillars of food insecurity
The Four Pillars of Food Insecurity

 

Having gained this knowledge, the Causes of food insecurity are discussed below. They can be listed to include;

-Population Growth

-Urbanization

-Conflict and Political Instability

-“Financialization” of Food

-Climate Change

-Lack of Access to Agricultural Land

-Natural Disaster

-Biofuel Production

-Unfavorable Trade Rules

 

1). Population Growth

You might find it relatively easy to understand how increase in population may lead to food insecurity.

Increase in the number of individuals will predictably raise the demand for food. Especially where there is no adequate technology and resources for enhancing food production, this will cause shortages in available supply.

It is projected that the demand for food will multiply globally by the year 2050 [7]. While there may be enough food on Earth to serve the entire human population, this food is not usually evenly distributed. It therefore implies that the risk of starvation and food insecurity for a large part of the growing population will be increased.

 

2). Urbanization

The rate of urbanization in the world has been experiencing steady growth in recent years. Also, it is predicted that more than 9 billion people on Earth will live in urban areas by 2050 [31].

Urbanization will mean that more farmlands will be converted for other purposes like industry and commerce. Coupled with population growth, it also implies that there would be higher demand for food supply. Given that there would likely be fewer farmers and farmlands, this suggests a greater risk of food insecurity.

Also, the economic inequality among urban residents implies that those living on a relatively low income will be unlikely to access quality or adequate food compared to the more privileged.

In another light, however, there are positive potentials of urbanization with respect to food insecurity. The growth of technological methods for enhancing agricultural productivity means that there may likely be more than enough food supplies for the urban population.

Also, the global efforts to achieve sustainable development may lead to the mitigation of challenges like poverty and hunger [29].

 

3). Conflict and Political Instability

Food insecurity may result from political instability [22]. In a similar manner, political instability may result from food insecurity in some cases. An example of such cases is food riots, which may lead to serious political unrest.

What this implies is that food insecurity may be a cause or an effect of political instability.

Political conflicts can cause large populations to migrate from their homeland to a safer region or place. This kind of event not only exposes the populations to poor health and nutrition, but also exposes their hosts to food insecurity due to increase in population.

Protests, vandalism, violent crimes, democratic failure and various forms of civil conflict are more dominant in regions experiencing food insecurity.

In another scenario, food insecurity may result when political conflicts lead to destruction of farmlands and food supplies, and blocks relief aids from reaching the population [17].

 

4). The ‘Financialization’ of Food

Financialization of food is yet another cause of food insecurity. As you may predict, this refers to the role played by financial systems in the availability, production and distribution of food materials.

We can conveniently describe the financialization of food as the influence of financial and economic conditions on the food sector [5]. Because the market is heavily dependent on currency and exchange, fluctuations in economic value of these commodities, causes insecurity of food supply.

Price hikes lead to food shortages due to the inability of most people to purchase food, and the inability of most producers to supply it to the population.

 

5). Climate change 

Climate change is a very powerful and significant factor in this area. This is because it can affect all other factors that determine food insecurity level.

Climate change can affect the availability, accessibility, stability and utilization of food supply. It can also affect the health of the human population, and hence its capacity to produce and distribute food materials [13].

The impact of climate change on food security has different dimensions. Climate affects livestock, forestry, crops and fisheries. In this way, it impacts the economic conditions of the entire agricultural sector.

 

How does Climate Change Affect Food Insecurity?

a). Climate Change Influences Food Production and Agriculture

It has been observed that some of the typical characteristics of climate change, have led to a decline in general crop yield and productivity in many affected parts of the world [15]. These ‘typical characteristics’ include floods, drought, atmospheric pollution, acid rain, high atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, and high background temperature.

Climate variability not only makes it difficult to ensure that there is a stable rate of food production, but it also reduces the yield and quality of food materials which are produced.

Also, sea level rise, which is yet another characteristic of climate change, causes flooding and damage of coastal farmlands. It may also cause saltwater to intrude and pollute groundwater aquifers, which are used to support agriculture.

b). Climate Change Reduces Food Nutritional Value

Nutrition is a common concern in several regions of the world affected by food insecurity.

Climate change affects the quantity, quality and type of food which is produced. High temperature and CO2 concentrations may reduce the nutrient content of staple crops [6]. This includes the iron, protein, and zinc content of such crops.

It has been predicted that in the coming years, a large fraction of the human population would suffer from nutrient deficiency due to the direct effect of climate change on crops. This would mostly affect low-income and rural populations, that directly depend on domestic agricultural produce for their feeding and nutrition.

Livestock are also affected by climate change. This is because they depend on plant growth and water availability, for their own survival as well. In similar manner, fishery is threatened by drought, heat waves, flooding, sea level rise and other outcomes pf climate change.

c). Climate Change Ultimately Reduces Access to Food

This should not be difficult for us to predict, considering that climate change reduces the quantity, quality, and nutritional value of food.

Food accessibility depends on how much food materials have been produced, as well as their quality, and the conditions under which they have been produced. Where the production of food has been reduced by climate change impacts, it means that the access to food will also be affected.

Extreme weather events like flooding and drought may cause price inflation of food materials. This will expose the low and middle-income members of the population to greater risk of food insecurity.

d). Climate Change Causes Increase in Food Waste

Many of the typical outcomes of climate change, such as flooding and excessive rainfall, are known to have negative effects on crops.

The rise in humidity as a result of flooding can cause mold-growth, wilting, and other crop diseases. In areas affected by drought, crop growth is entirely stunted. When crops are transferred from these drought areas to high-humidity areas, they face the risk of pests or fungal infections.

Such conditions as the above will ultimately result in the destruction and wasting of crops on a large scale.

In the same vein, food losses and wastages further contribute to climate change by releasing greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere.

The most vulnerable populations with respect to food insecurity as a result of climate change, are those at the low-income and poverty level of the society. What this means, is that, in order to tackle the problem of hunger, and achieve the global Sustainable Development Goals, climate change and climate justice must be addressed.

6). Lack of Access to Agricultural Land

Because food is produced mainly from agriculture, access to agricultural or farming land is essential for ensuring food security.

Many individuals who would otherwise be involved in the food production process do not have access to any farm-able land. Also, land-grabbing, which occurs when traditionally-owned land is taken for industrial or corporate purposes, leads to deficiency in land supply. This ultimately leads to social instability and poverty, which may both increase food insecurity [26].

 

Other causes of food insecurity include unfavorable trade rules, biofuel production, and natural disaster.

 

Food Insecurity Examples

In this section, two examples of food insecurity from real-life scenarios will be provided, as instances of mild, chronic and acute food insecurity conditions.

Example One: Mild to Chronic Food Insecurity: A Case Study of Nigeria

In Nigeria, food insecurity is a problem which is continuously worsened by several other factors. Communal conflicts have been a major example of the factors which worsen the state of food insecurity in Nigeria. Also, the COVID-19 outbreak especially in 2020, contributed to worsening the problem.

Farmers in Nigeria are affected seriously by social and economic problems such as fuel price fluctuations, Boko Haram terrorist insurgency, and clashes with herdsmen.

The food insecurity challenge in Nigeria ranges from mild to chronic in nature. This is because the affected population is often faced with the problem of having limited access to adequate or quality food, rather than the absolute absence of food.

Poor state of funding and support policies can be held accountable for most of these problems. Infrastructural development in the rural areas and the agricultural sector leads to poor farming facilities and food production practices.

In Nigeria, as a consequence, majority of the human population cannot afford a healthy diet [19]. The country therefore has the second-largest population of malnourished and stunted children in the world [26].

The problem of food insecurity in Nigeria is a socioeconomic problem. We can ascribe a large part of the blame to the discovery of large amounts of crude within the country. As a result of this discovery, the agricultural sector has faced a high level of neglect for several decades.

Some programs like Operation Feed the Nation have been developed to meet the food needs of the country’s growing population. However, these have also been affected by instability on the part of the government in terms of how policies are implemented.

To improve the current conditions, cooperation between the private and public sectors of Nigeria is required. Also, other measures like increasing the allocation of resources to the agricultural sector, must be taken by the government.

The evaluation and monitoring of agricultural and food production programs is also required. Infrastructural development in the rural and agricultural sectors should involve introducing mechanized methods and practices.

 

Example Two: Acute Food Insecurity: A Case Study of Malawi

In Malawi, more than one million individuals are faced with extreme and acute conditions of food insecurity in 2021 [12].  

This is in spite of the large scale of crop production of maize and other grains within the country. The main cause of the food insecurity challenge in Malawi is Climate Change. Problems of drought and long dry spells without rainfall, are frequent.

Severe shortages and instability in the rate and volume of food production are very rampant in the region.

This was further worsened by the COVID-19 outbreak, which affected the economic value and dynamics of food materials in the country.

Groundnut Farmers at a Market in Malawi (Credit: Swathi Sridharan  •  CC BY-SA 2.0 )
Groundnut Farmers at a Market in Malawi (Credit: Swathi Sridharan (ICRISAT) 2010 .CC BY-SA 2.0.)

 

At the present, a small fraction of the population is living either in food secure conditions, or in minimal to stressed conditions of food insecurity. It is projected that by early 2022, nearly 10% of the population will be seriously affected by the food crisis. Also, the affected population is spread across both urban and rural areas.

 

Effects of Low Food Security

Food insecurity, like other forms of food crisis in our global society, affects millions of individuals across the world.

This is especially in low-income, natural-hazard-prone regions. It is known that the threat of food insecurity is highest in communities where people are most vulnerable to hunger, starvation, malnutrition and poverty.

In the world at large, the issue pf rising economic prices of food and agricultural materials, continuously worsens the risk of chronic food insecurity.

In developing countries especially in Asia and Africa, such as India, Kenya and Nigeria, the population is subjected constantly to recurring food shortages, and distribution problems. These challenges often lead to hunger and starvation, across a large proportion of the human population.

As we have already mentioned, social and political conflict often rises as a result of food insecurity in our society. The comparison of types of food insecurity has also shown that all members and categories of the human population area affected.

In addition to promoting hunger, crime and starvation, food insecurity is a major cause of child mortality, illness and malnutrition worldwide.

In the following sections, a few main points with respect to the effects of food insecurity will be discussed;

1). Hunger and Poverty

Earlier in this article, it was shown that hunger and food insecurity are completely different concepts. However, there is a strong relationship that exists between the two.

Food insecurity very often leads to hunger, especially when it is chronic or acute. Also, the problem is usually found in association with poverty. We may also view food insecurity as a potential cause of poverty. This is because, in cases where the problem is caused by a sharp rise in cost of food materials, efforts to obtain these expensive food items would lead to a loss of resources and ultimately to poverty.

The poor are most vulnerable to these challenges, obviously. This is because the access to food items reduces as we proceed below the poverty line.

Hunger leads to expenses worth billions of dollars every year. In the US, an average of $179 billion is spent yearly to address hunger challenges. Such resources would have otherwise been useful for infrastructural development.

2). Depression and other Mental Health Problems

Like other forms of lack, food insecurity is often associated with poor mental health. This is because of the social isolation and anxiety which come as a result of food insecurity.

3). Malnutrition

When access to adequate and quality food is reduced, the risk of malnutrition greatly increases.

The outcomes of such malnutrition include stunted growth, low birth weight, anemia, and deficiency diseases [18].

Children who are affected by food insecurity are at greater risk of chronic health problems like asthma and anemia. These problems eventually cause poor physical quality and reduces their ability to engage in social or intellectual activity.

4). Rise in Food Prices

Because food insecurity is accompanied by shortage of food items, the available food commodities under such circumstances are usually expensive to purchase.

Such rises in food prices, reduce the accessibility of the food to the human populace. Other challenges may arise as well, such as access to healthcare. Ultimately, the level of food insecurity is worsened further, as a result.

5). Unemployment

At the national level, food insecurity usually leads to economic downturn. This may cause the loss of jobs and reduction of minimum wage levels.

 

Food Insecurity Statistics

This section of the article provides us with some important figures with respect to food insecurity in a number of major countries.

1). Food Insecurity in Nigeria

In early to mid 2020, over 9 million individuals in Nigeria experienced serious levels of food insecurity [35]. As earlier stated, the main causes of this problem include regional conflict, government policy and effects of the COVID-19 economic downturn.

Climate change is equally a cause of food insecurity in some parts of Nigeria. However, it is not a major problem. The areas where food production is most affected by climate change are mostly in the northern parts of the country.

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), about 3.2 million affected Nigerians reside in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states. These are all located in the northeastern part of the country. It is also projected that this number will multiply severally by the end of the year 2020, if effective steps are not taken.

2). Food Insecurity in The United States of America

An estimate of approximately 90 percent of households in the U.S. where food secure throughout the year 2019 [32]. Among the remaining 10 percent, about 4 percent were seriously affected by chronic food insecurity, while 6 percent experienced minimal or irregular forms of food insecurity.

The historical trend suggests that food insecurity in the United States has experienced a series of increases and decreases over the past wo decades. Below is a chart illustrating the trend of food insecurity based on affected percentage population in the U.S between 2000 and 2019.

 

Year Affected Population (%)
2000 (yr 1) 10.5
2001 (yr 2) 10.7
2002 (yr 3) 11.0
2003 (yr 4) 11.6
2004 (yr 5) 11.9
2005 (yr 6) 11.7
2006 (yr 7) 11.2
2007 (yr 8) 11.0
2008 (yr 9) 14.6
2009 (yr 10) 14.4
2010 (yr 11) 14,7
2011 (yr 12) 14.9
2012 (yr 13) 14.2
2013 (yr 14) 13.1
2014 (yr 15) 12.8
2015 (yr 16) 11.6
2016 (yr 17) 11.5
2017 (yr 18) 11.3
2018 (yr 19) 11.1
2019 (yr 20) 10.0

 

U.S population growth and food insecurity
Food Insecurity in the U.S (2000-2019)

 

Approximately 35 percent of households living below the poverty line in the U.S, where exposed to various levels of food insecurity in the year 2019.

Food Insecurity by Race, and Living Conditions in the United States

Hispanic and Black people in the U.S where exposed to food insecurity at higher rates than the white population in 2019 and 2020.

This is in addition to other social problems such as homelessness.

Among families with children, about 14 percent of the total population was exposed to food insecurity in 2019 and 2020. However, in 93.5 percent of such households, the adults were the sole victims of this problem.

The general level of food insecurity in the U.S ranges from minimal to chronic, with a very small percentage being exposed occasionally to acute food insecurity.

Across the different states in the U.S, the rate and level of food insecurity varies. This is partly due to differences in social structures, government policies, and population size.

Similarly, there has been a general rise in government expenses on feeding support programs. In 2020, the overall expenditure on such assistance programs was about $122 billion in total.

While we may assume that this high value was influenced by the COVID-19 outbreak, it is projected that subsequent years would see further increase in the need for such support programs.

3). Food Insecurity in India

As a country, India houses a very significant proportion of the population of individuals facing food insecurity in the world. This has been the case even before the outbreak of COVID-19 that worsened food security conditions worldwide.

Reports released by the United Nations estimate that there was an increase in the prevalence of food insecurity in India by about 3.8 percent between the years 2015-2019.

However, the outbreak of the pandemic led to a notable rise in the prevalence and severity of food insecurity in India. It is recorded that there was an increase in incidence of minimal to acute food insecurity by approximately 7 percent between 2018 and 2020 [3]. This has occurred in spite of the massive stocks of food materials, especially grains said to be owned by the Indian government.

In precise terms, India plays host to 25 percent of the total food-insecure population on Earth. This is a large proportion, even when compared to that of the entire Southeast Asia (which also includes India), that constitutes roughly 36 percent of the global affected population.

The problem of food insecurity in India can be attributed to a number of potential causes. One of these is social inequality, and others include unemployment and general economic downturn. Low-income levels are very prevalent, and job-losses occur alongside fluctuations that lead to rises in the price of food commodities.

While these issues were compounded by the pandemic, it is obvious that government action is required in form of agricultural infrastructure development, economic investment, international partnerships and relief programs.

4). Global Estimates

-State of Global Food Security

It is estimated that roughly 9 percent (almost 700million) people in the world are exposed to food insecurity. This population is increasing by an average of 10 million individuals per year.

As at 2021, the largest proportion of affected people are located in Asia. This is closely followed by Africa, with both continents containing up to 80 percent of the total affected population. In numerical terms, this is more than 630 million affected people in both continents.

The year 2019 saw a significant rise in the number of food-insecure people around the world. Up to 750 million or one-tenth of the global population was affected. This, predictably, was mostly concentrated in Africa and Asia.

Asides this large population, an additional 1.25 billion people experienced severe food security at some point or the other between the years 2020 and 2021. It is projected that more than one-tenth of the global population would be exposed to acute food insecurity by the year 2030, if the current trend continues.

-Effects of Global Food Insecurity

In the year 2019, roughly 145 million children in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia were stunted due to malnutrition as a result of food insecurity. This is in addition to approximately 47 million children under 5 years of age who were severely malnourished and experienced wasting and other deficiency-related illnesses in other parts of the world in the same year.

The year 2020, saw a notable increase in hunger and food insecurity, globally. The COVID-19 pandemic served to worsen these challenges. The prevalence of undernourishment grew from 8.4 to .9 percent within the year alone, after having remained relatively stable for several years.

Given these conditions, it is considered unlikely that the sustainable development goal of achieving zero hunger by 2030 will be accomplished. The increase in the number of people facing hunger between 2019 and 2020 alone was roughly 118-161 million [23].

In 2020, more than 11.5 percent of the households in the United States had limited access to food commodities at some point or the other. Only in the preceding year (2019), this value had been relatively low at roughly 2.5 percent. Among the affected individuals, those who were exposed to the acute form of food insecurity form about 4 percent of the total population in the U.S [10].

There have been variations in the prevalence and severity of food insecurity between rural and urban regions of the world. The rural areas are more affected in general, and they exceed urban areas by about 0.8 percent.

Food Insecurity and Children

Approximately 15 percent of households with children are unable to access adequate or quality food commodities globally.

Similarly, about 15 percent of babies worldwide are born at very low birthweight [33]. This exposes such children to risks of infant mortality or stunted growth.

Other problems experienced by children as a result of food insecurity include high risk of obesity and overweight (due to low quality food), and low intelligence quotient (IQ).

 Food Insecurity at the household level, has potential negative effects on children. In particular, it affects the development, growth, and health of these children.

Asides general poor health and development, food insecurity leads to mental and emotional health problems in children. These include anxiety, aggression, attention deficit disorder, and depression [2].

While the physical effects of food insecurity range from underweight to overweight conditions, the psychological effects are observed in poor behavioral tendencies, social capacity, and intellectual performance [20].

Gender Issues in Food Insecurity

Globally, the gap between male and female genders with respect to food insecurity, is a relatively wide one.

In 2020, chronic and acute food insecurity grew by roughly four percent for women, relative to men. While the difference in prevalence of food insecurity between the two genders was six percent in earlier years, it rose to about 10 percent in 2020.

A number of factors expose women more to the risk if food insecurity and hunger than their male counterparts. While the women account for a large percentage (almost 50 percent) of rural farmers, they are less favored in terms of land rights and bargaining power [21].

In urban areas, similar challenges may be observed in the form of a lower level of access to jobs and high income. In the face of the global movements for gender equality, these problems are relatively less-severe, and likely to be completely addressed soon.

Solutions  

1). Improvement of Existing Support Programs

Around the world, there have been several programs so far, in support of nutrition and food supply to the human population. We can predict, based on the obvious, recent developments, that these programs have not proved sufficient to address the problems at hand.

Infrastructural development must be improved by world governments and other health and environmental entities. This would result in better food production and supply [14].

In similar manner, more effort is generally needed, in order to improve the conditions, effectiveness and reliability of most food relief programs in our global society.

2). Reduction of Food Wastage

Each year, an estimated 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted globally [27]. This also amounts to about 30 -5z percent of all food produced per year. The causes of food wastage vary. However, one notable cause is poor facilities for processing; transport, storage and marketing of food commodities.

Food wastage can therefore be reduced, by improving food processing and storage facilities. This would ensure that the distribution and consumption of food commodities are both efficient and optimal.

The reason why food wastage is a major problem in our present society, is mainly because of the current condition of population growth. By the year 2050, it is projected that the global population would have reached approximately 9.6 billion [30].

Given such a large population, there would be even more demand for food resources. This implies that it is necessary to address the problem of food wastage in a prompt manner.

3). Improvement of Trade Policies

Unfair trade policies represent another major problem which affects the availability and accessibility of food commodities. As a result, food insecurity usually occurs.

The reason for this problem, is mainly the fact that big corporate entities have taken over the food production and agricultural sector. Resultantly, the food commodities have been intensively commercialized. It therefore becomes more difficult for farmers, especially those operating on a small-scale basis, to make their products available in the market.

As we may predict, the possible solution to this problem lies solely in the hands of the government. It is necessary for measures to be taken, to improve the existing policies that guide food trade in our society.

The harsh competition created by the corporate giants in the process of commercializing food, has led to an unfair and imbalanced state of trade between different food producers. Food commodities are increasing drastically in their prices, and poverty level is rising as well.

4). Reduction of Food Commercialization Risks

As the preceding section has already implied, commercialization of food commodities is a huge problem to food security.

If food is produced for the sole purpose of providing for the nation, region, or community, the problem of food insecurity would be at its minimum.

This is because, farmers would be able to produce larger quantities of food crops and cash crops. In turn, this would make food to be available and accessible in sufficient quantity, reducing the risk of commercialization and food insecurity.

5). Closure of the Yield Gap

The ‘Yield Gap’ is simply the margin between the amount and quality of food which is produced, and that which is capable of being produced under the best conditions.

In most farming lands, the natural fertility of the soil has been depleted, and this leads to lower quantity and quality of production. In order to close this gap, it is necessary for agricultural institutions and governments to develop programs and strategies to improve crop production levels.

These programs will be most effective is they are region-specific. This refers to the development and implementation of programs to suit the prevalent conditions in a given area. Land improvement and soil management are some good examples of methods that could be used.

Also, it is necessary to avoid methods and practices that would lead to loss of forests and natural habitats, affect wildlife and biodiversity, or release large quantities of greenhouse gases. The programs must be designed so as to ensure that food is made available and accessible, in sufficient quantity and quality to the human population.

It is estimated that at the present rate, up to 120 million forest land hectares would be lost due to farming practices in developing nations, by 2050. To prevent this from happening, steps are needed to close the yield gap for available farm lands.

6). Promotion of Agricultural Diversification

One of the potential causes of food insecurity in the world today, is the use of narrow agricultural methods and practices. In several regions, food production focuses on a single or a few staple crops [1].

An example of this is the dominance of cassava, oil palm, and maize in the Southeastern part of Nigeria. Another is the concentration of grain crops in Southern parts of Asia.

To reduce the threat of food insecurity, farming must be diversified and enhanced in all regions of the world through sustainable agriculture. This implies that a broad range of crops must be grown.  Diversification can be achieved through mechanized farming and soil enhancement practices, among others.

7). Addressing the Climate Change Problem  

The climate change issue remains the most significant one in this area. Climate change has had severe effects on the environment and the human population.

In addition to affecting the environment, it has led to a decrease in crop yield due to flooding, drought, bush fires and erosion in several parts of the world.

What this shows, is that if we engage in an active fight against climate change, it would result in some positive effects on the yield of crops and availability of food. This would result in a decrease in global levels of food insecurity.

There are a few ways by which we can alter the effect of climate change on crop production. Three of these are simply listed below;

1. Effective and Efficient Use of Fertilizer

2. Irrigation practices to raise Soil Moisture in Drought-Affected Areas

3. Production of Food for Direct Consumption

 

Conclusion

This article has described and discussed Food Insecurity in terms of its basic meaning, context, causes and effects, and possible solutions in our global society.

It shows how the topic is important to the survival entire ecosystem and the human population. Similarly, it has shown how food insecurity is related to other important concepts; like sustainable development, commercialization, and climate change.

In order for us to achieve sustainable development, food insecurity and its causes must be addressed effectively and promptly. The statistics show that food insecurity is generally increasing in terms of its severity and prominence across the world. By making use of the recommended measures in this article, among others, food insecurity can be reduced to the barest minimum in coming years.

 

References

1). Adjimoti, O. G.; and Kwadzo, M. T. (2018). Crop diversification and household food security status: evidence from rural Benin. Available at: https://agricultureandfoodsecurity.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40066-018-0233-x. (Accessed 4 November 2021)

2). Althoff, R., Ametti, M., and Bertmann, F. (2016). “The Role of Food Insecurity in Developmental Psychopathology.” Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5085882/ (Accessed 4 November 2021).

3). Bansal, V. (2021). “India’s godowns are overflowing. So why are people starving?” Available at: https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/indias-godowns-are-overflowing-so-why-are-people-starving-7440463/. (Accessed 4 November 2021).

4). Breisinger, C.; Ecker, O.; and Trinh Tan, J. F. (2015). “Chapter 7: Conflict and Food Insecurity. how Do We Break the Links?.” Available at: https://www.ifpri.org/sites/default/files/gfpr/2015/feature_3086.html. (Accessed 3 November 2021).

5). Clapp, J. (2018). “financialisation of food as the influence of financial and economic conditions on the food sector.” Available at: http://speri.dept.shef.ac.uk/2018/11/07/what-is-the-financialisation-of-food-and-why-should-we-care/. (Accessed 3 November 2021).

6). EESI (2018). “Climate Change Will Reduce Nutrients in Crops.Available at: https://www.eesi.org/articles/view/climate-change-will-reduce-nutrients-in-crops. (Accessed 3 November 2021).

7). Gladek, E.; Roemers, G.; Sabag Muños, O.; Kennedy, E; Fraser, M; and Hirsh, P. (2017). “THE GLOBAL FOOD SYSTEM: AN ANALYSIS.” Available at: https://www.metabolic.nl/publication/global-food-system-an-analysis/ (Accessed 3 November 2021).

8). Healthypeople.gov (2021). “Food Insecurity.” Available at: https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/social-determinants-health/interventions-resources/food-insecurity. (Accessed 3 November 2021)

9). Hohenstein, W. (2017). “USDA is Acting on Climate and We Have a Plan.” Available at: https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2014/10/31/usda-acting-climate-and-we-have-plan. (Accessed 2 November 2021).

10). HungerandHealth (2021). “Understand Food Insecurity.” Available at: https://hungerandhealth.feedingamerica.org/understand-food-insecurity/#_ftn1. (Accessed 3 November 2021).

11). IFPRI (2021). “Food Security.Available at: https://www.ifpri.org/topic/food-security. (Accessed 5 November 2021).

12). IPC (2021). “IPC ACUTE FOOD INSECURITY ANALYSIS JULY 2021 – MARCH 2022.” Available at: https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/IPC_Malawi_Acute_Food_Insecurity_2021July2022Mar_Report.pdf. (Accessed 4 November 2021).

13). IPCC (2021). “Food Security.” Available at: https://www.ipcc.ch/srccl/chapter/chapter-5/. (Accessed 3 November 2021).

14). Lencucha, R.; Nicole E. P., Adriana A., Anne-Marie, T; & Jeffrey D. (2020). Government policy and agricultural production: a scoping review to inform research and policy on healthy agricultural commodities. Globalization and Health volume 16, Article: 11. Available at: https://globalizationandhealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12992-020-0542-2. (Accessed 4 November 2021).

15). Liliane, N.; and Mutengwa, S., C. (2020). “Factors Affecting Yield of Crops.” Available at: https://www.intechopen.com/chapters/70658. (Accessed 3 November 2021).

16). National Academies Press (2013). “Individual, Household, and Environmental Factors Affecting Food Choices and Access.” Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK206912/ (Accessed 3 November 2021).

17). National Geographic (2020). “Hunger and War.” Available at: https://www.nationalgeographic.org/article/hunger-and-war/. (Accessed 3 November 2021).

18). Ntenda, P.A.M. (2019). Association of low birth weight with undernutrition in preschool-aged children in Malawi. Nutr J 18, 51. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12937-019-0477-8

19). Owoo, N. (2020). Demographic considerations and food security in Nigeria. Journal of Social and Economic Development 23, 128–167. Available at: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40847-020-00116-y. (Accessed 4 November 2021).

20). Pan, L., Sherry, B.; Njai, R.; Blanck, H. (2012). Food Insecurity Is Associated with Obesity among US Adults in 12 States. J. Acad Nutr Diet.; 112(9): 1403–1409. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2012.06.011. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4584410/ (Accessed 4 November 2021).

21). Reliefweb (2019). “Gender Inequalities and Food Insecurity: Ten years after the food price crisis, why are women farmers still food-insecure?.” Available at: https://reliefweb.int/report/world/gender-inequalities-and-food-insecurity-ten-years-after-food-price-crisis-why-are-women. (Accessed 4 November 2021).

22). Simmons, E. (2017). “Recurring Storms: Food Insecurity, Political Instability, and Conflict.” Available at: https://reliefweb.int/report/world/recurring-storms-food-insecurity-political-instability-and-conflict. (Accessed 3 November 2021).

23). SOFI (2021). “The world is at a critical juncture.” Available at: https://www.fao.org/state-of-food-security-nutrition. (Accessed 4 November 2021).

24). Swaminathan, M. S.; and Bhavani, R. V. (2013). “Food production & availability – Essential prerequisites for sustainable food security.” Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3818607/ (Accessed 3 November 2021).

25). The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) (2021). “The world is at a critical juncture.” Available at: https://www.fao.org/state-of-food-security-nutrition. (Accessed 3 November 2021).

26). The World Bank (2020). “Food Security.” Available at: https://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/food-security. (Accessed 3 November 2021).

27). UNEP (2021). “Worldwide food waste.” Available at: https://www.unep.org/thinkeatsave/get-informed/worldwide-food-waste. (Accessed 4 November 2021).

28). UNICEF (2016). “Nutrition.” Available at: https://www.unicef.org/nigeria/nutrition. (Accessed 4 November 2021).

29). UNICEF (2019). “Environment and climate change.” Available at: https://www.unicef.org/environment-and-climate-change. (Accessed 3 November 2021).

30). United Nations (2013). “World population projected to reach 9.6 billion by 2050. Available at: https://www.un.org/en/development/desa/news/population/un-report-world-population-projected-to-reach-9-6-billion-by-2050. (Accessed 4 November 2021).

31). United Nations (2017). “World population projected to reach 9.8 billion in 2050, and 11.2 billion in 2100.” Available at: https://www.un.org/development/desa/en/news/population/world-population-prospects-2017 (Accessed 3 Novbember 2021).

32). United States Department of Agriculture (USDA, 2020). Household Food Security in the United States in 2019. Available at: https://www.ers.usda.gov/webdocs/publications/99282/err-275.pdf. (Accessed 4 November 2021).

33). WHO (2014). “WHA Global Nutrition Targets 2025: Low Birth Weight Policy Brief. Available at: https://www.who.int/nutrition/topics/globaltargets_lowbirthweight_policybrief.pdf. (Accessed 4 November 2021).

34). WOKATPedia (2016). “Definition and Dimensions of Food Security.” Available at: https://wocatpedia.net/wiki/Definition_and_Dimensions_of_Food_Security. (Accessed 3 November 2021).

35). World Food Programme (WFP) (2021). “Nigeria.” Available at: https://www.wfp.org/countries/nigeria. (Accessed 4 November 2021).