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c. Food security

150. The recent food prices crises highlighted the vulnerability of poor people to volatile food prices, and vaulted the issue of food security to the top of the global agenda.  As smallholders produce up to 80% of the food consumed in Africa and Asia, a lot of emphasis is being placed on finding ways to help them increase their output to meet growing demand.  But smallholders are central to the question of food security not only as producers but also as consumers of food: the majority of smallholders are net buyers of food, and volatile food prices greatly increase their vulnerability and threaten their own food security (IFAD 2010).  Maintaining adequate food production and developing resistance against price shocks should be a founding principle of all agricultural market access interventions.
151. A 2011 CAFOD study into the impact of the food price crises on smallholder farmers and small businesses finds that risk and vulnerability are long-standing, overriding concerns guiding their economic activities, and makes a strong recommendation for a policy response that prioritises reducing risk and vulnerability.  The report emphasises the need for macro-economic stability, including reducing inflation, price and currency volatility (respondents in workshops confirmed that price stability mattered more than absolute price levels), and recommends support for G20 action on reforming the international monetary system and commodity market speculation.
152. The UN expects world population to grow to 9.15 billion in 2050.  Combined with changing diets among growing middle classes in wealthier developing countries, this is expected to result in a significant increase in demand not only for cereals but also dairy and meat products. FAO projections suggest that, in the absence of changing food consumption habits in the West and effective action to deal with food waste and loss, overall food production will have to increase by 70% between 2005/07 and 2050 to meet growing demand. Increasing demand for biofuels and the growing impacts of climate change pose further challenges to maintaining food security (FAO 2009). 

153. However ‘food security’ also encompasses the issue of persistent hunger which affected 870 million people in 2010-2012, according to latest FAO estimates, and malnutrition (FAO 2012).  It is important to ensure that agricultural programmes include improved nutrition and health outcomes for women and children as a key objective (Wiggins 2011). Growing more nutritious varieties of staple crops that have higher levels of micronutrients like vitamin A, iron, and zinc can potentially reduce death and disease, especially of women and children. Producing more diverse crops, especially fruits and vegetables, can also help to combat malnutrition, and selling more nutritious food could increase incomes and provide additional employment (IFPRI 2011).

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