Success stories in food security

Technical background documents 1-5
Volume 1
FAO, 1996

1. Introduction

1.1. This paper provides a sample of country experiences in improving food security. Each country example summarizes the major food security issues specific to the case and analyses briefly the various approaches adopted over time to tackle them. Most of the countries selected for presentation have achieved significant and sustained betterment in the national level of food availability and household food security since 1961, or currently enjoy high levels of food security. Others illustrate achievements in certain aspects of food security, although not exhibiting a general improvement in average food availability or household food security. Finally, an example of a successful international effort to prevent a major food security crisis in southern Africa illustrates the nature of actions that can avert widespread famine following a natural disaster.

1.2 Chapter 2 discusses the conceptual framework of food security in the context of development strategies. It also reviews the question of characterizing the status of, and progress in, food security through appropriate measurement. Against this backdrop, the survey of specific country experiences is given in Chapter 3, with a summary and conclusions provided in Chapter 4.


2. Food security issues at the country level

2.1 The conceptual framework for food security has undergone considerable evolution, reflecting the changes in perception over time of the world food problem as a whole. In the aftermath of the world food crisis of the early 1970s, the concept of food security was closely linked to the view that food security for individual countries could be ensured if larger grain stocks were available globally and if fluctuations in international grain prices could be contained within reasonable limits.

2.2 Thus, in the strategy recommended by the World Food Conference in 1974, laid out in the International undertaking on world food security, special emphasis was placed on maintaining the stability of supplies to ensure the physical availability of food in the event of widespread crop failure, and particularly in order to sustain levels of consumption in the most vulnerable countries. The undertaking envisaged internationally coordinated, nationally held stocks as well as food aid programmes and other measures, including long-term trade agreements. At the same time, the undertaking recognized that, in a broad sense, the attainment of world food security depends on the growth of food production, particularly in the low-income food-deficit countries (LIFDCs).

2.3 While food production at the global level has kept pace with, and even surpassed, population growth over the years, the food supply-demand gap and, as a consequence, hunger and malnutrition persist on a large scale, especially in the LIFDCs. Given the background to the present world food security situation, the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), at its eighth session in 1983, reappraised the concept of food security and adopted a broadened concept. According to this broadened concept,. The ultimate objective of world food security should be to ensure that all people at all times have both physical and economic access to the basic food they need. (FAO, 1983). To achieve this objective, it was recognized that three conditions would need to be fulfilled: ensuring adequacy or availability of food supply; ensuring stability of supply; and ensuring access to food at the household level, particularly by the poor.

2.4 The International Conference on Nutrition (ICN), held in 1992, added a nutrition dimension, expressing the objective that . all people at all times have access to safe and nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life. , which is the concept most widely recognized at present. In addition, concern that the drive for accelerated food production across the world should not lead to degradation of natural resources and the environment has meant that this goal should be achieved . without compromising the productive capacity of natural resources, the integrity of biological systems, or environmental quality. .1

2.5 For the purposes of analysis, the processes that underlie nutritional well-being can be broken down into separate subsystems that respectively determine the quantity, quality and nature of food that a household has access to; its allocation among the individuals belonging to the household; its intake by the individual; and its subsequent physiological utilization. The first two constitute household food security, while the last two are related more to factors such as sanitation, health and care. These interdependent subsystems are influenced by a common set of technological, economic, social, political, legal and cultural processes, which are parts of development in its broadest sense. Indeed, whatever the immediate causes of undernutrition and household food insecurity, the factors that hinder their improvement are basically the same as those hindering poverty alleviation and development.

2.6 The majority of the world. s food insecure and poor live and earn their living in the rural areas of the developing world, where agricultural activity makes a substantial contribution to their daily subsistence and where most produce food directly to meet some of their own nutritional needs, despite the accelerated urbanization observed in most of the developing countries. Moreover, in the least developed among these countries, employment and income opportunities in all sectors, not just in agriculture, are significantly limited by the level of agricultural productivity, the relative endowments of natural resources and the availability of human-made physical capital and economic, social and institutional infrastructure in the rural areas. In order to allow the realization of the full productive potential of rural people and to eradicate pockets of food insecurity and poverty that exist in rural areas, it is necessary to eliminate inequities in the distribution of land, income and political power, to provide education and training and to bring down barriers to access to inputs, services and markets. These measures are likely to address some of the problems of urban food-insecure people as well, by easing rural-urban migration pressures and expanding demand for non-agricultural goods, etc., although specific policies will continue to be needed to alleviate the food insecurity and poverty of the rapidly growing number of vulnerable people in urban areas.

2.7 Provided that it is possible to differentiate between the effects of sanitation, health and care and those of household food security, indicators of nutritional status can provide the most direct way of assessing the status of food security at the household level. In this respect, the best measure is obtained from direct surveys of dietary intake, used in conjunction with appropriate adequacy norms. These surveys are usually expensive and not readily available, especially in those regions and countries where vulnerability is the greatest. However, there are rough methods of estimating the number of people who are likely to be deficient in certain required food components at the country level. These estimates usually proxy, not the incidence of food security, but the incidence of food deficiency, since they do not take into account those who may not necessarily be food deficient but nevertheless are exposed to a relatively large risk of becoming food deficient because of fluctuations in availability and affordability of food (FAO, 1996a).

2.8 FAO has developed an aggregate household food security index (AHFSI) based on the work of Sen (1976) and Bigman (1993), which attempts to incorporate directly all of the three elements of food security mentioned earlier, namely, availability and stability of food supplies and access to food (see Box 1 for technical details). It has also introduced an intuitively more appealing indicator that measures the extent of inadequacy in food availability at the country level (see Box 2 for a more detailed definition), utilizing FAO estimates of the prevalence of the chronically undernourished. These two measures, combined with those of food availability obtained from food balance sheets, provide the background that threads together the policy experiences of the individual countries in so far as they have influenced the economic and social determinants of food security.


Box 1


The aggregate household food security index (AHFSI) uses FAO estimates of the prevalence of undernutrition in developing countries as its basis and combines these with measures of the extent of the food gap of the undernourished from national average requirements for dietary energy, the inequality in the distribution of food gaps and instability in the annual availability of dietary energy, which is a rather crude indicator of the risk of food deficiency at the aggregate level. The methods used in calculating the prevalence of undernourishment (see FAO, 1996a for detailed explanations) reflect only the number of chronically undernourished, who on average in the course of a year have a food intake below that required to maintain body weight and support light activity. People who are affected by seasonal and acute food insecurity are not directly taken into account, although the inclusion of a measure of variability in food availability may, to a certain extent, represent the risk being faced in the country.

The form of the index is:

AHFSI = 100-[H(G+(1-G)Ip)+ ½ s{1-H(G+(1-G)Ip)}]100,


- H is the head count ratio, which measures the proportion of the undernourished in the total population, expressing the extent of undernourishment;

- G is the food gap, which measures the proportion of shortfall of the average daily dietary energy intake of the undernourished from average national nutritional requirements, expressing the depth of undernourishment;

- Ip is a measure of inequality in the distribution of the food gaps;

- s is the coefficient of variation in dietary energy supplies, measuring the likelihood of facing temporary food insecurity.

The values of AHFSI range from 0 to 100, the higher values representing higher levels of food security. It should be noted that AHFSI is essentially an ordinal index. Thus, it is difficult to attach an intuitive meaning to any particular value, except its two extreme values.



Box 2


In order to link the food security histories briefly told for each selected country, two standard diagrams are presented, constructed on the basis of data collated by FAO. One of the diagrams summarizes the salient features of the food balance sheets generated by FAO, based on data furnished by its members. For purposes of exposition, production, apparent consumption, total use and imports of all reported food crops are weighted by their respective energy content, aggregated and then normalized by estimates of total population, to generate time series in units of Calories per caput per day for the period 1961-1992.

The other diagram reports the values of two similar composite indexes that measure the status of food security in the countries concerned for three distinct periods: 1969-1971, 1979-1981 and 1990-1992. The first of the indices is the AHFSI, which is described in detail in Box 1. Based on estimates reported by FAO (1994a), countries having an AHFSI above 85 are considered to enjoy a high level of food security. There were 25 countries reported to be in this category. Seven countries had AHFSI values below 65 and were thereby considered to have critically low levels of food security. A further 35 countries, having an index between 75 and 65, were considered as having low levels of food security. The remaining 26 countries were considered as having medium levels of food security.

The second of the indexes is more intuitive and measures food inadequacy (FA) in a country (FAO, 1996a), which is defined as:



- PUNNUR is the number of undernourished individuals;

- PTOTAL is the total population;

- CAVREQ is the average Calorie requirement norm;

- CAVUNNUR is the average availability of Calories for the undernourished in the population;

- CAVAVAIL is the average Calorie availability.

As can be seen, the measure takes into account not only the head count measure of undernutrition but also the food gap of the undernourished. It expresses, in percentage terms, the extent of total Calories needed to bring all the undernourished people in the population up to a certain level, assuming perfect targeting.

3. Summaries of country experiences in food security

3.1 No country can claim that it has completely eliminated chronic hunger and food insecurity. Therefore, there is as yet no country that can present itself as an example of complete success in this regard. Even if it were possible to find such a country, the paths followed to success are not likely to be replicated in, or appropriate to, other countries, given the complexity of the food security problem already mentioned and the diversity of its dimensions, causes and consequences. Yet despite this, the discovery of significant, and indeed meaningful, general consistencies at the global level linking status of food security and level of economic and social development suggests that there may be many success stories to be told.

3.2 Successes may be about specific experiences of countries in improving certain, but not necessarily all, aspects of their food security, and they can be accompanied by shortcomings in other aspects, sometimes being involved even in trade-offs with competing objectives not necessarily related to immediate food security considerations. This section of the paper tells the success stories about the food security experiences of a selected set of countries, highlighting wherever necessary shortcomings and even outright failures that can prove to be as instructive.

3.3 The collection of country cases presented illustrates policy experiences in large and small countries from different regions and with varied policy orientations, where domestic production, commercial imports and food aid play different roles in ensuring food security and where there is high or low economic dependence on agriculture.



3.4 Achieving food security has become a major goal of Burkina Faso. The vulnerability of the country to weather conditions was fully manifested in the wake of the drought that hit the Sahel region from the late 1960s to the mid-1970s. Since then, a variety of policy measures have been taken to address the problem including macro policies (the restructuring of public finance), policies for soil conservation and water harvesting, new land settlements, household-level income-generation policies and transfers. Such measures have been successful in curbing food insecurity and improving human welfare.

3.5 The daily per caput energy availability at the national level over the 1961-1992 period averaged close to 1 800 Calories, with a moderate annual growth (0.9 percent), but was also marked by important swings. Three periods can be discerned. From 1961 to 1967, there was a small rise in per caput energy availability. This was followed by a declining trend over 1968-1974, the main Sahel drought period. An upward trend is visible over the 1975-1991 period, with strong year-to-year fluctuations (Figure 1). These underlying developments in food availability closely follow those of the productivity of rural labour. Total cereal production per person living from agriculture, for example, has increased from about 180 kg in 1961 to over 300 kg in 1991, albeit with substantial year-to-year fluctuations.

3.6 However, since the early 1970s (post-drought period) the importance of food imports has also increased, reflecting in part the changing consumption patterns of urban consumers towards rice and wheat. Over the whole period, the contribution of domestic production to the growth in food availability is slightly more than one-half, only marginally higher than the contribution of imports. Commercial imports (mainly of rice and wheat) have shown the greatest variability, suggesting that they are the major variable that adjusts to keep total supply at the desired level. Future movements in the level of commercial imports will depend on income and price factors. Although the effect is not yet apparent, the recent (1994) devaluation of the national currency, together with price increases in world cereal markets, may lead to higher relative border prices and induce a reverse substitution of urban consumers towards domestic cereals. There is evidence of a strong supply response of rural production to higher prices provided that a conducive government policy in the area of inputs and infrastructure provision is in place (Saradogo, Reardon and Pietola, 1994).

3.7 Burkina Faso has a history of fairly low household food security. The AHFSI and the food inadequacy index (see Figure 2) indicate that, up until the beginning of the 1990s, Burkina Faso had severe food insecurity problems, with an energy deficit of nearly one-third of the national requirements. The situation since then has improved significantly and the country is no longer considered to have a critically low level of household food security, i.e. the value of AHFSI is nearly 70, with the food inadequacy level reduced to about one-tenth of the national requirements.3

3.8 The trend in food security identified above is the net result of many factors, the most important of which are: restructuring of public financing in favour of the rural sector; changes in agricultural sector and food security policies; and demographic factors and State-sponsored or spontaneous rural-to-rural migration.4

3.9 Over the 1983-1989 period, the government undertook major macroeconomic and sectoral policies aimed at restoring macroeconomic equilibria. A system of expenditure redistribution was implemented to allow the financing of sectoral programmes, including agriculture, while adhering to government deficit reduction targets. To reduce the deficit, budget cutting was mostly geared towards civil servants. salaries (60 percent of the total budget), leading to a cumulated savings over the 1984-1990 period of about CFAF 14 billion, or 4 percent of the CFAF 300 billion cumulated receipts over the same period (Zagré, 1992; Savadogo, 1994). The effect of the combined stabilization measures was to reduce the government budget deficit from CFAF 24.5 billion in 1984 to CFAF 4.5 billion in 1985, effectively enabling the financing of the rural sector as discussed below.


Figure 1



Figure 2


3.10 As Burkina Faso suffered through the major drought years of the late 1960s to mid-1970s, an awareness at the political level of the vulnerability of the country to natural conditions developed, leading to an increasing policy effort to stabilize and increase land productivity. Soil conservation measures (primarily the use of manure and compost and the construction of stone dykes to reduce water runoff) were promoted through the provision of government trucks and food-for-work programmes. Although soil conservation measures were initiated in the 1960s, they were accelerated during the 1983-1989 self-imposed adjustment period (Sanders et al., 1987; Savadogo and Wetta, 1992). The conservation policies led to increased yields on the degraded soils of the central plateau, thus increasing and stabilizing production (Cleaver, 1993).

3.11 With regard to demographic changes, the urban population has been increasing at a much higher rate than the rural population, while the latter has been characterized by important migrations from the low-potential central plateau to the southwestern areas. The consequence of an increasing urban population is a changing dietary pattern at the national level. Over the 1980s, the share of non-traditional cereals (rice and wheat) in total imported cereals has been growing at the expense of traditional cereals (sorghum and maize). The key demographic change, however, has been the massive migration from the overpopulated and low-potential central plateau to the more fertile but river blindness-infected agricultural land of the Volta River basins (south and southwest). Migrations had started early in the 1960s but were accelerated in the late 1970s to the early 1980s after the vector of river blindness, blackfly, was brought under control through a major public health programme sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) (McMillan and Savadogo, 1996). The need to claim new land was an immediate consequence of the 1968-1974 drought and was amplified by the major 1984 drought. Migrants were more willing to adopt improved technologies than indigenous people, which resulted in an increased agricultural output per person and per land unit at the national level (Savadogo, 1990).

3.12 Despite significant successes in food security as described above, household-level studies also reveal that seasonal food insecurity still prevails, raising the issue of an interseasonal food arbitrage. Because of the need for cash, households typically sell grain at harvest and have to repurchase when prices are higher. Off-farm income appears to be a way out of this vicious circle, but poor households in rural areas, which represent the primary food-insecure population group, are also poor in off-farm physical and financial assets. The non-agricultural income-generating programme initiated by the government in 1993 aims at addressing this issue by raising incomes and hence access to food.


3.13 China is highly acclaimed for its ability to feed over one-fifth of the world population with only one-fifteenth of the world's arable land. Starting from a level of 1 500 Calories per caput per day at the beginning of the 1960s, China increased food availability to over 2 700 Calories per caput per day by the beginning of the 1990s, achieving this almost exclusively through increases in domestic production. The Chinese experience, especially the post-1978 reforms, demonstrates the importance of incentives and a conducive institutional framework in maximizing the effects of agricultural infrastructure, and of successful research on, and dissemination of, new technologies. Over the years, China has successfully met the challenge of achieving universal food security in the face of increasing population.

3.14 After the formation of the People. s Republic of China in 1949, its war-torn agrarian economy was rebuilt through a development strategy oriented towards heavy industry. To facilitate the rapid capital accumulation necessary in the face of a low domestic savings rate, a policy of surplus transfer from agriculture to industry was implemented mainly by keeping wages for industrial workers at low levels. Such a policy made necessary the establishment of low prices for food, energy, transportation and other necessities. For food, this was achieved by compulsory grain procurement and strict food rationing policies.

3.15 However, a number of factors raised concerns about food security and prompted the pursuit of food self-sufficiency: increasing population, rising demand for food by the urban/industrial sectors, a severe famine that caused the death from malnutrition of millions of people between 1958 and 1961, and foreign exchange constraints. Such concerns prompted the government to adopt a strategy that would permit and foster the simultaneous development of agriculture and industry. For agriculture, the strategy consisted of a massive labour-intensive programme of investments in irrigation, land reclamation and flood control. At the same time, research and dissemination of high-yielding varieties (HYVs) and improved farming practices were promoted. Collectivized agriculture was considered to be the ideal system to coordinate such functions as well as to carry out the procurement of grain and other products deemed necessary for the implementation of the industrial development strategy (Lin, 1995).

3.16 The strategy was successful in so much as it allowed China to eliminate famine and feed its population at a reasonable level. Two nationwide food consumption surveys carried out in 1959 and 1982 show that both energy and protein intakes per caput increased in this period, energy from 2 060 to 2 485 Calories per caput per day and protein from 57 to 67 g per caput per day. Both increases were attributed to an increase in grain production, since a very high proportion of energy and protein is provided by cereals (71 percent of energy and 78 percent of protein, in 1982).

3.17 The developments in the food security situation in China are illustrated in Figure 3. Both food production and total food availability per caput followed similar paths, since food imports have been relatively small, averaging around 2.5 percent of per caput availability up to about the mid-1970s and around 3.5 percent since then. The widening gap between the availability of food for all uses and human consumption also reflects the changing structure of demand towards increasing meat consumption and thus of foodstuffs. The growth in per caput production of food energy averaged around 7 percent per annum between 1961 and 1966, declining sharply to approximately 3 percent since then (until 1992). During the intervening period, growth stagnated from 1967 to 1977, increased annually by about 6 percent from 1977 to 1984, and grew by less than 0.5 percent per annum between 1985 and 1992.


Figure 3



3.18 Taking distributional considerations into account, the household food security situation in the country from the beginning of the 1970s as measured by the AHFSI and the level of food inadequacy (see Figure 4) indicates a similar improvement to that observed for average food availability at the national level. From being considered a country with a low level of food security during 1969-1971, China has come close to being considered a country with a high level of food security. This is better illustrated with the more intuitive measure of food inadequacy, which essentially measures the depth and extent of undernourishment in the country. The total shortfall in energy requirements for the undernourished was nearly 15 percent at the beginning of the period considered, falling to below 5 percent in most recent years. This information is confirmed by evidence from two large-scale national surveys, conducted in 1975 and 1985. A comparison of data from the two studies shows an improvement in nutritional status in this period. Children observed were both heavier and taller in 1985 than in 1975, indicating an improvement in both acute and chronic malnutrition (Capital Institute Paediatrics, 1985).

The role of changes in the institutional structure of farming

3.19 Following the period of crisis and famine of 1959-1961 a number of reforms took place. Tight controls of the agricultural commune system were relaxed in favour of a more decentralized management system. Infrastructural investment continued alongside a remarkable effort and achievements in the area of seed improvement. The combination of a decentralized research system and successful extension resulted in the replacement by the end of the 1970s of 80 percent of the traditional varieties of rice and wheat by modern dwarf varieties. For more than a decade China was the only country in the world in which hybrid rice was commercially produced. Modern varieties of corn, cotton and other crops were also introduced and promoted in the 1960s and 1970s. The pace of mechanization also accelerated after 1965, especially during the 1970s.


Figure 4


3.20 The combination of infrastructural development, mechanization and the spread of modern inputs and seeds enabled China to eliminate famine and maintain a reasonable energy intake, but grain production growth was barely kept above population growth. Between 1952 and 1978 grain production growth per caput was 0.4 percent, with per caput availability of grain increasing only 10 percent in a quarter of a century, while no substantial improvements of living standards were attained after 30 years of socialist revolution. Despite dramatic increases in modern inputs in the 1960s and 1970s, the total factor productivity of Chinese agriculture in the 1980s remained about 20 percent lower than the level reached before the collectivization movement (Wen, 1993). The weak relationship between work effort and reward had detrimental effects on work incentives, which, combined with inefficient management and uneconomic resource use, contributed to the low technical efficiency in Chinese agriculture.6

3.21 Frustrated by the inability to raise living standards substantially after 30 years of socialist revolution, the Chinese leadership initiated in 1979 a series of sweeping reforms in agriculture. Such reforms included both increased incentives in the form of higher State procurement prices and a series of institutional reforms. These included diversification of the rural economy, production specialization, expansion of rights to land, increased flexibility in employment choice, crop selection in accordance with regional comparative advantages and enhancement of the role of markets. The most important change, however, was the emergence and eventual predominance of the household responsibility system (HRS), which restored the primacy of the individual household in place of the collective team system as the basic unit of production and management in rural China.

3.22 Relaxation of controls on private and market initiative unleashed the potential of the Chinese agricultural sector. While the population grew at 1.3 percent per year on average between 1979 and 1984, the value of agricultural output and grain output respectively grew by 11.8 and 4.1 percent annually in the same period. It is empirically assessed that about half of the increase in the agricultural output in 1978-1984 can be attributed to the improvement of incentives arising from changes of farming institutions from the collective system to the household system. As the real value of China. s agricultural output more than doubled since 1978, rural per caput income increased rapidly, reducing by two-thirds the number of people living in absolute poverty. The most rapid increase in rural per caput income occurred between 1979 and 1984, when the increase averaged 15 percent per year (FAO, 1994b). The number of rural poor declined from 260 million in 1978 to 100 million in 1990 or from 33 to about 12 percent of the rural population.

Keeping the pace: prospects and problems for Chinese agriculture

3.23 While agricultural production still grew remarkably after the completion of the HRS reform in 1984, grain production in China declined and then stagnated for several years in 1984-1989. This stagnation was mainly a result of the fact that, as individual households were given more autonomy to produce after the HRS was instituted, peasants began to allocate greater resources to the production of specific crops that were decontrolled and commanded higher profits. Perhaps an additional factor may have been that the marketing of grain was not fully liberalized. Farmers are still required to sell certain quotas of grain below market prices to the government. Therefore, farmers. incentives for grain production are suppressed. Further growth of grain output to meet the increasing demand for both foodgrains and feedgrains in the future requires the liberalization of remaining market impediments and the government. s strong support for agricultural research.

3.24 Poverty alleviation issues will continue to be important in China. While the strong rural sector growth played an important role in bringing down poverty levels during the first half of the 1980s, the subsequent slowdown in agricultural growth after 1985 coincided with a stagnation of poverty levels. In 1978 most of the poor resided in areas where rapid productivity gains were feasible through an increased use of farm inputs and hybrid seeds. By 1985, however, China. s remaining poor were concentrated in the less productive rain-fed areas. While some increases in productivity were achieved in these resource-poor areas, more needs to be done, as available evidence suggests that gains in agricultural growth have so far been largely offset by population growth.


3.25 Food security in Costa Rica, in terms of both per caput food availability and production and direct indicators of household food security status, has steadily improved through the period studied. Part of the reason for this is the strong policy emphasis on poverty alleviation. Although macroeconomic problems were encountered and policy adjustments were made that reduced the production of some traditional crops, the shift in emphasis to export-drive growth allowed increases in food imports to maintain per caput food availability, which is currently just below 3 000 Calories per day.

3.26 The Costa Rican economy experienced high rates of growth for nearly three decades until the early 1980s, despite its relatively narrow export basis consisting mainly of traditional tropical products (bananas and coffee). Contrary to what happened in many Latin American countries, fast economic growth was accompanied by significant social development, reducing the incidence of poverty to around 20 percent by the end of the 1970s. However, at the beginning of the 1980s the Costa Rican economy was severely hit by sharply worsening terms of trade and unfavourable conditions in the international financial markets. Institutional reforms .. to open the economy to external competition, to reduce price distortions and government intervention and to diversify exports as a response to the crisis .. allowed the economy to adjust to the new context without exacting high social costs.

3.27 During the 1960s and 1980s the government of Costa Rica implemented a series of successful policies aimed at promoting agricultural growth, with particular emphasis on increasing food production. The set of instruments used in this effort included setting minimum prices, subsidizing interest rates and inputs and providing agricultural extension and technical assistance. These measures proved to be extremely successful in promoting staple food production. (Figure 5 conceals this development because of the dominating influence of banana production in the food sector.) The increasing trend in per caput food imports of the 1960s was thus reversed in the early 1970s. However, by 1982 the cost of the agricultural programme had reached 30 percent of total current government expenditure and the programme was the first to be hit by the severe crisis faced by the country. Policy emphasis shifted from import substitution, food self-sufficiency and growth-cum-debt to export-driven sustainable growth. Although production of traditional crops declined during this period, production and exports of non-traditional crops increased rapidly, allowing an increase in per caput imports to nearly 30 percent of total food availability as the result of this policy shift.8


Figure 5



Figure 6


3.28 The net result of these developments was an average annual increase in per caput food availability of close to 1 percent, from around 2 200 Calories in 1961 to around 2 900 Calories in 1992. Although there are important regional differences in food intake in the country, improvements in AHFSI and food adequacy have closely followed those of average availability at the national level. The status of household food security increased from medium to high level, while the food gap declined from slightly less than 6 percent of average nutritional requirements to about 2 percent over the same period (see Figure 6).

3.29 Although food self-sufficiency has been dismissed as a goal to be pursued at all costs, the continued and increasing dependence on food imports leads to the question of whether Costa Rica has a solid enough export base to afford the increasing import bill and improve food security in the coming years. This issue needs to be considered in the light of the traditionally adverse international terms of trade between developed and developing countries, particularly those with large primary export sectors, and the level of indebtedness and recent global financial instability.


3.30 Although the main indicators of food security in Ecuador show a steady improvement throughout the three decades studied in this paper, per caput food production and availability followed a path similar to that followed by macroeconomic indicators and policies. The impact of changing macroeconomic and sectoral policies was especially strong on per caput food supplies, which were declining with increasing macro imbalances prior to the 1980s but which have significantly improved with the implementation of stabilization and structural policies since then.

3.31 Ecuador experienced phases of relative stagnation prior to the 1970s, booming growth during the 1970s and crisis during the 1980s, and it has experienced an unstable economic recovery since the mid-1980s. It has also experienced a variety of institutional and political arrangements and development strategies. The inward-looking, industry-led import substitution development strategy of the 1960s gave way to the oil export drive of the 1970s which was gradually replaced by the International Monetary Fund/World Bank (IMF/WB) development strategy in the last decade as economic growth slumped. During the 1970s Ecuador registered stunning and unprecedented rates of gross domestic product (GDP) growth (approximately 18 percent per year between 1972 and 1981). In about 30 years, it improved from being one of the poorest countries in Latin America, with a per caput GDP of about US$200 in 1961, to being a lower-middle-income country, with a per caput GDP of about US$1 200 at the beginning of the 1990s.

3.32 Ecuador. s rather uneven growth experience was accompanied by important structural changes in the economy. From what was a traditional, rural-based economy and a typical tropical fruit-exporting country in much of the 1950s and 1960s, Ecuador has developed in the 1990s into a typical Latin American urban and industry-based economy. Agriculture. s share in GDP declined from 26.4 percent at the beginning of the 1960s to less than 15 percent in the early 1990s, when industrial activities (including oil extraction and refining) accounted for almost 35 percent of total value added.

3.33 The underlying policy thrust that underpinned this development was characterized by a macroeconomic environment that was not particularly favourable to agricultural growth, especially during the 1960s and 1970s. The overvaluation of the Ecuadorian sucre and heavy taxation of traditional export crops, i.e. coffee and bananas, reduced the competitiveness of the sector as a whole. As a result, exports stagnated while imports of cheaper raw materials were encouraged. Food imports were subsidized, especially during periods of high international prices, to ensure the supply of cheap food to urban consumers. Although there were times when food imports were taxed to encourage local production of food crops, on balance, policies resulted in an average decline in food production per caput (expressed in energy equivalents) of about 2.8 percent per annum during 1961-1983 (see Figure 7). Livestock production, fisheries (shrimp cultivation) and rice production were the only food production sectors exhibiting some dynamism during this period. The production of maize, wheat, barley and potatoes as well as that of banana and coffee declined as a result of an extraordinary expansion of pastureland at their expense. Such shifts in resource allocation reflected reduced incentives for crop production and moves by large landowners to undermine agrarian reform.

3.34 The worsening of macroeconomic imbalances in early 1980 led to the need to implement stabilization and structural adjustment measures. From 1984 onwards, the government gave up attempts to regulate the economy. International trade, financial markets and foreign investments were liberalized; a floating exchange rate system was introduced; domestic markets and labour relations were deregulated; and agricultural policy shifted focus from direct intervention in markets to market assistance to foster greater private-sector participation. Although the government retained control in some agricultural markets, such as rice, soybean and sorghum, the negative trend in per caput food production was reversed, from -2.8 percent per annum before 1983, as noted above, to +4.1 percent per annum thereafter. In parallel, the share of food imports in total food availabilities for direct human consumption (in energy equivalents), which had grown from 8 percent in the 1960s to nearly 20 percent by the early 1980s, has since stabilized around that level (see Figure 7).

3.35 The economic developments briefly described above have also been reflected in food availabilities over the same period. Daily per caput food availability grew by an average of 0.7 percent per annum between 1961 and 1992, increasing from just less than 2 000 Calories to around 2 600 Calories. It should be noted that the annual growth observed since 1983 is 1.1 percent, significantly greater than the 0.6 percent estimated for the period prior to 1983. Ecuador is currently considered to have a high level of food security, with an AHFSI greater than 85 and food inadequacy less than 5 percent (see Figure 8). However, within the food-insecure group, pregnant women, lactating mothers and children below five years of age continue to be especially vulnerable.


Figure 7


3.36 Despite progress in food security, the prevalence of malnutrition remains high among marginalized groups, whether in rural or urban areas. Micronutrient deficiencies (particularly iron, iodine and vitamin A) are widespread. The government, in collaboration with non-governmental organizations (NGOs), is currently embarking on an intersectoral approach to improve food security, linked to the existing food and nutrition surveillance system. This approach combines general development programmes with interventions focusing on marginal groups. The approach includes the diversification of food production for national consumption, the prevention of post-harvest losses, food quality and safety measures, the improvement of the food distribution systems, the promotion of linkages between the food industry and nutrition institutions, food fortification and nutrition education and communication to raise awareness on food and nutrition issues at all levels (family, community and school). Support to marginalized groups concentrates on increasing and diversifying household food production and consumption and promoting income-generating activities. Particular attention is given to the training and organization of women. s groups.


Figure 8



3.37 India is a vast country covering a total area of over 297 million hectares and with a population of just over 935 million people. It is considered a low-income country with a per caput gross national product (GNP) of about US$300, according to most recent estimates. India has experienced moderately high economic growth of around 5.2 percent per annum since the early 1980s, well above the average annual population growth rate of slightly above 2 percent for the same period. Despite rather large variability in per caput food availability since the 1960s, India has maintained a determined effort to achieve self-sufficiency and improve household food security throughout this period. Per caput food availability currently stands at 2400 Calories per day and the prevalence of poverty is still relatively high, but the extensive use of targeted anti-poverty measures has reduced vulnerability to famines and maintained the status of food security in the country.

3.38 India still has an agrarian-based economy, in which the share of agriculture in GDP is slightly less than one-third. The performance of the Indian economy has been largely conditioned by its founders. economic and political philosophy, which is firmly rooted in democratic principles and finds its expression within a mixed-economy environment.

3.39 Soon after independence in the mid-1950s India entered an era of ambitious industrialization that emphasized import substitution and a central role for the public sector, which was expected to occupy the . commanding heights. of the economy through investments in heavy industry and social infrastructure. Throughout this period, industry was heavily protected by overvalued exchange rates, quantitative restrictions and import tariffs. Although agricultural production was directly supported by subsidized inputs, i.e. fertilizer, irrigation, energy, seeds etc., the protection afforded to the industrial sector resulted in substantial indirect taxation of agriculture. During the triennium ending in 1992/93, for example, total indirect taxation of the sector was estimated to be around 28 percent of the gross value of agricultural output, while subsidies were estimated to be slightly more than 5 percent. Yet, despite this, the sector grew on average by 3 percent per annum after independence, outstripping the annual growth in population. Indeed, the average annual growth in per caput food production (in energy equivalents) between 1961 and 1992 was about 0.7 percent (see Figure 9). Since 1980, the growth rate has doubled to 1.4 percent per annum. Technological improvements (which significantly increased yields) have been the main engine of this growth, resulting in near self-sufficiency in food. The share of imports in food availability for direct human consumption is currently about 1 percent, down from about 6 percent in the early 1960s.

3.40 Although average per caput food availability is currently slightly less than 2 400 Calories per day, up from around 2 000 Calories in the early 1960s, and food adequacy and aggregate household food security are at respectable levels (see Figure 10), the prevalence of poverty is still relatively high, at about 40 percent. This means that improvements in per caput food consumption have not been uniform among all households. Concerns about such vulnerability, which tends to be exacerbated by relatively greater year-to-year variability in food availabilities, have led to the establishment of policy instruments that directly target groups at greater risk. The Integrated Rural Development Programme, the National Rural Employment Programme and the more recent Employment Assurance Scheme, as well as other policies targeting the health and nutrition sectors, have resulted in gains in the elimination of famine, declines in the prevalence of severe and moderate protein-energy malnutrition, a steep decline in kwashiorkor, only rare appearances of micronutrient diseases such as beriberi and pellagra and a significant reduction in the incidence of nutritional blindness.

3.41 Micronutrient deficiencies such as vitamin A or iron deficiency are still significant public health problems in the country, especially for vulnerable groups in marginalized areas. Present development policies emphasize the need for an integrated and intersectoral approach. The sectoral plan for agriculture includes the diversification of food production to reflect nutritional needs, the prevention of post-harvest losses, the promotion of local horticulture projects for improved nutrition, nutrition education, and training and organization of women farmers. The public distribution system strives to ensure household food security through the distribution of essential foods in disadvantaged areas. Food processing industries at all levels are encouraged to prepare and facilitate markets of a variety of safe and ready-to-use foods, with an emphasis on traditional foods, and to fortify and enrich common processed foods. Welfare programmes seek to address basic needs, including food needs, of disadvantaged sections of society.


Figure 9



Figure 10


Reducing vulnerability to famines in India11

3.42 India has managed to avoid major famines since gaining independence in 1947. Although gains in productivity and production in the food sector and an extensive public food distribution system have been important elements in this endeavour, India. s experience with rural employment schemes seems to be the critical factor differentiating it from other countries that frequently suffer the drastic consequences of famines. The schemes tend to vary across states, but they all aim at providing employment to the rural poor who are willing to do unskilled manual work on a piece-rate basis. Self-selection is usually built in, as no choice of work is offered, the wage rate is usually below the agricultural wage rate and workers may have to travel long distances to participate. The projects chosen are usually labour-intensive and create productive assets. The scheme in Maharashtra, for example, where there is a rural workforce of 20 million people, can provide up to about 100 million person-days of employment in a typical year (Gaiha, 1995).

3.43 The extent of general participation in the schemes has been found to be related to economic conditions in the states concerned, increasing during times of difficulty and declining when conditions improve. Despite the fact that the piece-rate payment system may not be very appropriate for all the poor, for example the physically weak or women if they have to travel long distances, the welfare gains for those who participate may well be substantial during lean and slack periods. The Indian authorities, encouraged by the presence of democratic institutions, have had the political will to commit the necessary resources to support these schemes, especially during times of severe food security crises associated with a rapid loss of food entitlements, so as to reduce, if not completely eliminate, mortality associated with famines. This aspect of India. s experience stands out when compared with the experiences of other countries. India, of course, has a long way to go before poverty and chronic undernourishment are completely eliminated.


3.44 Indonesia has pursued a persistent policy of achieving self-sufficiency in rice, the major food staple of the country, since the late 1960s and early 1970s in order to improve its food security. It has been successful in achieving both, as per caput food availability increased to around 2 700 Calories per day at the beginning of the 1990s from just under 2 000 Calories at the end of the 1960s and the status of household food security improved significantly during the same period. Part of the success can be attributed to the integrated approach adopted by the government whereby marketing interventions were complemented by research on and dissemination of HYVs of rice as well as the provision of the requisite modern input packages.

3.45 Having enjoyed nearly three decades of rapid economic growth with macroeconomic, political and social stability, Indonesia has earned the reputation of being a tiger along with the other two second-generation high-performing Asian countries, Malaysia and Thailand. Although Indonesia is considered a lower-middle-income country, with a per caput GNP of US$740 in 1993, it has achieved an average annual growth rate of above 6 percent over the past three decades, compared with annual growth of only 2 percent during the 1955-1966 period. The implementation of stabilization policies during 1966-1972, particularly those that pertained to exchange rate adjustments and liberalization of foreign capital flows, initiated this process. The oil boom that ensued from 1973 to 1982 sustained the improvements as exports earnings and investment rose.

3.46 The agricultural sector, particularly the rice subsector, received significant support during this boom period. There were substantial investments in irrigation, infrastructure, research, extension and education. These were supplemented by market stabilization and support programmes through BULOG, the parastatal National Logistics Agency, responsible for price stabilization and support and for food security, while other marketing agencies were responsible for intensification programmes, including the dissemination of HYVs and the provision of modern input packages. The direct support provided to the sector, as demostrated by continuing positive nominal and effective protection rates for many important crops, places Indonesia among a small number of developing countries where agriculture has been given positive protection.

3.47 The effects of these developments on the food sector are illustrated in Figure 11. Stagnating per caput food production and availability in the early 1960s were transformed into significant increases, from an annual average decline of about 2 percent to an annual increase of 2 percent for food production and from zero growth to an annual growth about of 1.5 percent in food availability for human consumption. Overall, food imports continue to be important, averaging about 6 percent of total per caput food availability during 1988-1992. However, the special focus on the rice sector resulted in rice production more than doubling over a period of 25 years, turning Indonesia into a rice-exporting country, although it continues to import when there is a need.

3.48 These developments resulted in a significantly improved food security status in the country. Indonesia has been able to move from a low to high food security status (AHFSI nearly 90). Indeed, the shortfall in the food gap for the average undernourished person was slightly less than 10 percent in the beginning of the period under consideration, falling to about 2 percent in recent years (Figure 12). Indonesia. s integrated approach to agricultural development and timely and effective adjustments to macroeconomic policies and programmes in the face of emerging new challenges have been the cornerstones of this success.

3.49 An applied nutrition programme survey conducted in 1973 found the average energy consumption to be 1 528 Calories per person per day and average protein consumption to be 42.8 g per person per day. Data from the Household Expenditure Surveys of 1980, 1981 and 1984 put the average daily per caput consumption at 1 800 Calories and 43 g of protein. Although these low intakes, which are considerably below the national figures for food availability (about 2 500 Calories), serve to highlight that there are food insecurity problems in the country, the above increase in food intake is matched by a recorded improvement in nutritional status. A longitudinal study comparing results of 1979 and 1986 surveys conducted among children under five years of age in 27 provinces shows a decrease in the rate of severe malnutrition (<70 percent of standard weight for height) from 5.9 percent in 1979 to 4.2 percent in 1986. However, the national diet of Indonesia is grossly unbalanced, with 82 percent of dietary energy supplied by cereals, roots and tubers and nuts and oilseeds. This diet provides 8.5 percent of energy from protein and 15 percent from total oils and fats while the rest comes from carbohydrates. Improvements in the availability of animal products, oils and fats, pulses and beans and fruit and vegetables need to be considered by agricultural planners.


Figure 11


3.50 The Government of Indonesia, through the National Plan of Action for Nutrition, notes with great concern the prevalence of undernutrition among the poor, particularly the elderly. It emphasizes the need for political will and decentralization, focusing on farmers. welfare, and promotes an intersectoral approach to poverty alleviation. Specific attention is given to improving household food security and nutrition as an integral part of development policy. Timely warning and intervention systems in provinces prone to food shortages are also being developed.

Producer price polices for rice13

3.51 Since its inception in 1967, BULOG has implemented price policies for the principal food crops in Indonesia. While the various intensification programmes were crucial in disseminating the new technology that enabled Indonesia to become self-sufficient in rice, BULOG. s approach to rice marketing and distribution aimed at complementing the policies on the production side by establishing a positive incentives system. Such efforts were undertaken at a time when marketing channels were severely disrupted and the transportation system and other marketing infrastructures were in disrepair. BULOG not only controlled international trade in rice but also provided the functions of supporting and stabilizing domestic prices of rice. Through its vast provincial and district-level organization, BULOG procured, stored and distributed rice, using floor prices to support producers and ceiling prices to protect consumers. Although the private sector usually handled 90 percent of rice production, its operations were restricted by BULOG. s marketing margins, which were in turn determined by the agency. s financial resources and readiness to intervene in the rice market.

Figure 12


3.52 Initially, the agency. s principal achievement was the stabilization of interannual and interseasonal fluctuations in rice prices. It also had the responsibility for distributing rice to the armed forces and civil servants, which may, at times, have forced it to behave as a target-driven procurement agency. In the early 1970s, rice prices were kept below import parity and rice consumption was subsidized. The resulting tax on producers was gradually lifted to encourage productivity increases, employment generation and poverty alleviation in rural areas. Between the mid-1980s and early 1990s, Indonesian rice prices were at or above world parity, inevitably exerting pressure on the government budget as it competed for limited resources serving a multiplicity of policy objectives. Over time, developments in the structure of the rice market and of the economy in general may have significantly altered the benefits and costs of the operations. Thus, for example, general improvements in transportation and information infrastructure could allow BULOG. s interventions to be focused mainly on those areas of the country that have not been able to keep abreast of these developments, or distribution of rice could be altered so as to target only those who are food-insecure. Within politically feasible limits, the authorities are already introducing new policy instruments that take into account the changing economic environment in Indonesia.


3.53 Nearly a decade after the beginning of economic liberalization and nearly four years after the end of the country. s devastating civil war, Mozambique remains among the poorest countries in the world. Hunger remains a stark fact of life for a large number of households. Despite adverse conditions, dramatic progress towards sustainable food security has been achieved in recent years. Three dimensions of this progress are evident: first, increasing per caput food energy availability in the face of drastic reductions in food aid; second, lower and more stable prices for the principal domestically produced staple, white maize; and third, a food system that now provides consumers with a broader range of low-cost staples from which to choose. Figure 13 illustrates the substantial decrease in both per caput food production and availability, despite the increase in per caput imports, almost all of which were in the form of food aid, since the early 1970s. The significant drop in AHFSI (which puts Mozambique among the five least food-secure countries in the developing world) and the increase in food inadequacy contributed to a grim food security situation in the country prior to the ending of hostilities (see Figure 14). Not shown in the figure is the fact that total cereal production and per caput energy availability from cereals in Mozambique have increased substantially in recent years, while the contribution of food aid to availability has fallen dramatically. Production for 1996/97 is forecast to be more than double that of 1989 and 25 percent higher than that of 1995/96. Per caput energy availability from all cereals in 1996 is projected to be equal to or higher than that of any year since at least 1989. Food aid. s contribution is projected to fall to only 2 percent during 1996, down from 72 percent during the 1992 southern African drought and from an average of 49 percent for the three years prior to the drought.

3.54 Increased availability has been accompanied by lower and more stable staple food prices in key urban centres. The mean price of white maize in the capital city of Maputo for the post-drought period of March 1993 to January 1996 was 40 percent lower than the corresponding price for the pre-drought period of March 1990 to March 1992. With excellent cereal production anticipated throughout southern Africa this year, white maize prices in Maputo are likely to fall near or below historical lows. Added to improved availability and lower and more stable white maize prices for urban consumers has been the continued availability of low-cost food staples such as whole (. 99 percent. ) yellow and white maize meals, which low-income consumers tend to prefer when given the choice.


Figure 13


Correlatives of progress in food security

3.55 The ending of the war was the precondition for improvements in food security, yet the rapid progress the country has made in the past three to four years has been based on more than just the end of the war. Policy choices made prior to the peace accords created the conditions for rapid recovery once hostilities ceased. The key policy changes relate to general food marketing policy as well as to specific policies on the monetization of yellow maize food aid.


Figure 14


3.56 Starting in 1987, the country embarked on a programme of donor-financed economic reform under the Economic Rehabilitation Programme (ERP), which removed restrictions on product movement across district and provincial boundaries and eliminated the geographical monopolies for registered private traders. This led to the rapid entry of new traders, who dominated the food marketing system in Maputo by 1992. These traders, nearly all of them unlicensed, handled most of the domestic production that was able to reach the city and regularly brought maize meal, wheat flour, sugar, vegetable oil and other food products to the city from Swaziland and South Africa. Concurrently with the disintegration of the ration shops and the emergence of the informal trading sector, donors were looking for more market-oriented means of distributing monetized food aid. Beginning with shipments in mid-1991, donors negotiated with the Government of Mozambique for the grain to be sold directly to registered private wholesalers (called consignees) at fixed prices in the port cities. Many consignees were included, ensuring a competitive system at this level. These consignees then sold into the highly competitive informal market. The combined effects of liberalized food markets and a competitive trading system contributed decisively to the improvements in food security by:

3.57 Despite this impressive progress, significant challenges remain in order for the move towards sustainable food security to continue. Among these challenges the most important are: consolidating reforms in the trading sector; investing in cost-reducing marketing infrastructure; and investing in the country. s ability to identify and disseminate improved production technologies.


3.58 Strong leadership, macroeconomic stability, an outward-looking development strategy and universal primary education are among the ingredients of the economic success that allowed Thailand. s economy to grow steadily at about 7 percent per annum over the past three decades. Food production growth paralleled overall economic development although for a long time neither per caput food availability nor household food security improved dramatically. In fact, per caput food availability hovered just slightly above 2 000 Calories per day until the late 1980s, when it increased to just below 2 500 Calories. Increased production has been made possible by extensive land cultivation. Increasing intensity, improving diversity and reducing poverty remain important policy issues to be addressed.

3.59 Growth in the past three decades was led by developments in agriculture. Contributing to growth were stable macroeconomic management, infrastructure development and the promotion of better social integration. The spectacular expansion in agricultural land was the crucial factor for agricultural and overall economic growth, which in turn contributed to stability of Thailand. s currency, the baht, during this period. Growth in the agricultural sector continued after the oil shock of 1972 with rising international agricultural prices despite increases in energy prices and growing indebtedness. By the time of the second oil shock of 1979, however, the rate of expansion of agricultural land had slowed down as the land frontier became exhausted, shifting the emphasis to an industry-led development strategy. With the restructuring of the economy completed, declining energy prices and a depreciating United States dollar, an industrial boom of unprecedented proportions occurred after the mid-1980s, allowing exports of manufactured goods to surpass those of agricultural commodities for the first time.

3.60 These developments have also been felt in the food sector, with per caput food production remaining relatively stable during the 1960s, increasing rapidly by more than 3 percent per annum until the mid-1980s and stagnating once again since then. Figure 15 shows clearly Thailand. s food exporting status. It is also obvious from the figure that developments on the food production side have not been replicated on the availability side, at least until the beginning of the industry-led development phase in the mid-1980s. The average annual growth rate in food availability for human consumption was less than 0.5 percent during the earlier period but increased to over 1.5 percent in the latter. The rapidly widening gap between food availability for all uses and that for human consumption is also an indication of the changing consumption patterns resulting from the rapid industrialization during this period.17 However, the fact that the average per caput availability for human consumption was still below 2 500 Calories as late as 1992 points to possible food insecurity problems in the country.


Figure 15


3.61 Support for this supposition is provided by recent estimates which place about 25 percent of the population among the poor, with most concentrated in rural areas. From the perspective of household food security, the estimates of AHFSI and food inadequacy paint a similar picture: the former indicates that the status of household food security in Thailand has hovered just above the level considered low food security, although food inadequacy has not surpassed 8 percent of average nutritional availability (Figure 16).

3.62 Malnutrition was recognized by the government as an important social problem: two national social and economic plans gave high priority to the alleviation of nutritional problems. In the 1980s Thailand managed to reduce the incidence of malnutrition dramatically through an integrated approach. Consequently, figures from the Ministry of Public Health. s national growth monitoring programme (based on Thai standards) showed improvements in nutritional status of children from birth to 60 months in all parts of the country. The proportion of children with weight for age of less than 75 percent (using Thai standards) decreased from 15.1 percent in 1978-1982 to 2.8 percent in 1986. Essential among the factors that produced this success were political commitment and the recognition that food and nutrition are indispensable elements of human development. Certainly, success in Thailand was also facilitated by a favourable economic environment, but eliminating the nutrition problem was also seen as a prerequisite for overall development.


Figure 16


3.63 Thailand. s Plan of Action for Nutrition (1994) expresses concern over the persistence of micronutrient deficiency diseases such as iodine deficiency disorders among young children and women of reproductive age in some rural areas and iron deficiency in rural areas nationwide. The thrust to strengthen multisectoral integration and adapt conventional programme planning and budgeting is actively pursued. Community-based nutrition programmes and the Poverty Alleviation Plan (combining rural job creation, agricultural production programmes, village development projects or activities and provision of basic services) are given high priority for reducing micronutrient deficiencies. Rural development policies give priority to areas of high poverty concentration and emphasize people. s participation. Food processing and preservation and distribution are encouraged as important means to improve household food security. Programmes to ensure consumer protection and promote appropriate food habits are under way. Increased attention is given to high-risk groups such as small children and the elderly.

3.64 Perhaps of equal concern in regard to the current food security problems in the country are the sustainability issues that have been pushed to the fore because of the way past gains in agricultural outputs were achieved. The main source of such gains, as already noted, was the growth in agricultural land area achieved through extensive deforestation.

3.65 The forest cover dwindled from 60 percent of total land area in the early 1950s to around 30 percent in the late 1980s. Yields, especially of the main staple, rice, still remain well below those of Thailand. s competitors in the international markets. Thus diversification, sustainability, poverty alleviation, increasing productivity and addressing unbalanced development are challenges to be tackled on the road to improving food security in the future.

A brief history of rice policies implemented in Thailand18

3.66 During the 1980s, rice accounted for 40 percent of agricultural GDP and 30 percent of agricultural exports and for two-thirds of the energy in the Thai diet. In fact, 98 percent of the 4 million farming households in Thailand were involved in growing rice, accounting for 55 percent of the population and 66 percent of the labour force. Furthermore, rice was the most important wage good affecting the cost of living for the Thai consumer. Therefore, pricing and marketing policies for rice were particularly important before the mid-1980s.

3.67 The most prominent feature of the policies implemented at the time was the various implicit and explicit taxes applied to rice exports. The diverse instruments of intervention in rice prices ultimately had the effect of lowering the price to producers. This, in turn, had a substantial effect on the urban real wage and the direction and magnitude of intersectoral transfers. Mills, retail outlets, industry in general and final consumers benefited directly in varying degrees from lower rice prices, although the real thrust of the policies was to stabilize domestic prices, mainly by clipping price peaks. The pro-consumer bias of these policies was strengthened through a cheap rice sales programme, funded from export taxes, until the mid-1970s. Increased rice production was sustained through area expansion, despite the heavy taxation of rice producers.

3.68 With area expansion reaching its limit, the focus of rice policy shifted to raising producer prices, essentially to encourage intensification and promote yield increases. However, the producer subsidies were costly and largely self-defeating because they were funded from rice export taxes. This fact, combined with a reduced reliance on tax revenues collected from rice exports and a softening of the international rice markets, resulted in the complete liberalization of rice exports in 1986.


3.69 Food security in Tunisia has improved very rapidly since the beginning of the 1960s. Per caput food availability has increased from about 2 000 Calories per day then to nearly 3 500 Calories per day at present (Table 17). Such a high level of food availability has been achieved essentially through food imports, which have been necessary because of severe natural constraints affecting agricultural production. Government intervention has succeeded in translating high food availability into improved food security for the majority of the population through the establishment of extensive social safety nets at the household level. In addition, policies for containing demographic growth have resulted in Tunisia being the first country in Africa to achieve a population growth of less than 2 percent.

3.70 Since independence, the public sector in Tunisia has gradually come to play a significant role in the economy. By the end of the 1980s government employees accounted for about 25 percent of all employed wage-earners; the public sector. s share in total fixed investment approached nearly 60 percent and its share in value added nearly 50 percent; and public enterprise expenditure was over 40 percent of GDP. At the same time, the State also devoted higher public expenditures to social polices than do most middle-income countries. As a result, the literacy rate today stands at 65 percent; life expectancy is 68 years; and income inequality has declined, although significant regional disparities exist (World Bank, 1995). Poverty estimates derived from consumption expenditure surveys indicate that the incidence of poverty is currently fairly low, at slightly less than 7 percent of the total population, down from about 22 percent in 1975.

3.71 The substantial reduction in the incidence of poverty has also brought with it significant improvements in the status of aggregate household food security, as evidenced by the increase in the value of the AHFSI over the 1961-1992 period. Also, food inadequacy is currently less than 1 percent (see Figure 18). During the same period, average per caput food availability increased as mentioned above from around 2 000 to nearly 3 500 Calories per day, representing an average annual growth rate of slightly more than 1.5 percent (see Figure 17). Nutritional status, for both children and adults, has also gradually improved.

3.72 Increases in food imports including food aid have accounted for much of these successes. The share of food imports in food availability for human use has, on average, increased 1 percent per year during the period under consideration. However, since 1971 food aid receipts have averaged about 8.5 percent (reaching levels as high as 50 percent ) of food availabilities for human consumption. Food aid was provided partially to offset the effects of droughts. Tunisia. s vulnerability to drought results mainly from the severity of land and water constraints. Available water resources are expected to be fully utilized by the end of the century, while only 6 percent of agricultural land is under irrigation and irrigated agriculture accounts for 30 percent of the sectoral output. Moreover, land degradation affects over 60 percent of the country. s usable land resources and is leading to the permanent loss of about 0.5 percent of agricultural land per year (World Bank, 1995).

3.73 Further efforts are being made to improve household food security and diversify diets, including redefining agricultural policy to satisfy the population. s needs with local foods and to reduce consumption of imported foods. Encouraging the food industry is seen as an essential means for job creation and the production of convenience foods. Efforts to improve food marketing, distribution and quality control are under way. Nutrition education is being emphasized as a means to influence consumption. Parallel integrated interventions (e.g. safety nets and poverty alleviation) are being developed at local level to help vulnerable population groups. Programmes to mitigate natural disasters (such as drought) are also being developed.


Figure 17



Figure 18


Merging structural adjustment and food security concerns20

3.74 By the mid-1980s, pervasive public involvement in economic activity had resulted in the creation of fairly large imbalances in domestic and external accounts, fanning inflationary tendencies and slowing down economic growth. Stabilization and structural adjustment policies adopted after 1986 were designed to correct such unsustainable imbalances by reducing public spending and demand. Privatization and divestment of public enterprises, banking reforms and liberalization of international trade and domestic markets have indeed achieved a substantial degree of macroeconomic stability, lowering inflation levels to those observed in the countries of the European Union and increasing the per caput GDP growth rate from an annual average of 1.2 percent for the period 1981-1986 to 2.4 percent for the period 1987-1994.

3.75 The change in policy orientation was also reflected in agriculture. Subsidies on fertilizers, animal feed, pesticides and herbicides, seed, irrigation and mechanized services have been substantially reduced since 1989. Although the Caisse Générale de Compensation (CGC), the main agency created in 1971 to support food prices at both the consumer and producer levels, continues its activities, its deficits, which had contributed to the financial crisis of the mid-1980s, are now under control. Moreover, there has been an observable change in the structure of the support that CGC provides, with relatively more resources being allocated to support the consumption of cereals. Anti-poverty programmes targeting the vulnerable have also been developed, utilizing existing maternity and health centres, school canteens, regional rural youth employment centres, etc. Tunisia is one of the few countries in Africa that has established social safety nets alongside structural adjustment programmes (SAPs). At the producer level, prices of some products, such as poultry and bovine meat, have been completely liberalized, while markets for wheat, olive oil, sugar, tea, coffee and reconstituted milk continue to be controlled by parastatals.

3.76 The continued presence of the government in the food sector, along with a significant change in policy emphasis, appears to be an important reason for the underlying positive trend in food availability and food security in Tunisia. Nevertheless, extreme volatility of agricultural production21 continues to be an important cause for concern and will continue to do so as long as water and land constraints remain. Thus, diversification (not only in the agricultural sector but also in the economy as a whole) will be crucial for the future of food security in Tunisia.


3.77 Turkey is a developing country that has maintained a relatively high level of food availability and food security since the 1960s. Much of the improvement in this respect took place prior to the 1960s, with extensive government intervention in all aspects of the operations of the most important agricultural markets. Currently, food security problems are related more to achieving a nutritionally balanced diet than to increasing or maintaining energy availability. However, despite increased efforts to liberalize agricultural markets, public intervention continues to be important, placing considerable strain on the budget and on general price levels.

3.78 Turkey started its industrialization efforts quite early. It is customary to compare the country. s modernization with that of Japan, as conscious development efforts started in both countries at more or less the same time. However, the natural resource base of Turkey was sufficiently large and a development path that involved pursuing a goal of agricultural self-sufficiency and import substitution, rather than one of export-led economic development, was chosen at a very early stage of the industrialization process. Although self-sufficiency in agriculture was taken to mean security in a strategic sense, it also provided a good base for industrialization. In fact, the first factories established during the early republican era were all agriculturally based.

3.79 Initially, the push towards agricultural self-sufficiency started with price support to wheat, the main staple crop, as early as the onset of the great depression in the early 1930s. The support programme was subsequently extended to cover more than 20 crops. The ensuing growth in agricultural output, which averaged over 3.5 percent per annum, well above the growth in population, was sustained first by extension in the area cropped and then by improvements in yields. Although the growth in per caput food production for the 1961-1992 period (averaging less than 0.5 percent) was modest, food availability for human consumption was already at a high level, over 2 800 Calories per person at the beginning of the period and rising still further to about 3 400 Calories by 1992 (see Figure 19).

3.80 The household food security situation has paralleled developments on the supply side, as Turkey has been consistently among those countries having a high food security status over the past 25 years (see Figure 20). With the completion of a major irrigation scheme in the southeastern region of the country (the GAP Project), it is not likely that the country will be troubled significantly by food insecurity problems in the future.

3.81 Food balance sheets show satisfactory aggregate food availability, yet unequal distribution among socio-economic, gender and age groups, inadequate food habits and poor quality of foods through contamination remain problems in many areas. The prevalence of malnutrition has decreased in the last ten years but is still high in some small, extremely poor areas of the country. Micronutrient deficiencies persist, in particular those of iron, calcium and riboflavin, and are attributed to inadequate intakes of milk and milk products, meat and meat products and eggs. Efforts to enhance consumer protection through strengthened food legislation and control programmes and appropriate consumer information are under way. Food fortification is encouraged according to local needs. The improvement of food distribution systems, particularly of street foods, is seen as one of the means to improve access to a safe and diversified diet. The sustainable use of natural resources, through more appropriate agriculture practices, is seen as a precondition for ensuring future food security. Priority development areas have been established to promote self-sustained development in disadvantaged areas. Emergency preparedness for natural and human-caused disasters has been given specific attention.


Figure 19


3.82 Turkey has been contributing food commodities to other countries in times of urgent need from its own production and is implementing a policy of sharing its expertise, knowledge and other resources with them. Turkey continues to support the efforts of the food-deficit countries in Africa, the Near East, the Balkans and the Caucasus to attain food security through training, education and increased production and productivity.

An overview of agricultural support policies in Turkey

3.83 Output support prices, input subsidies, subsidized credits, quotas, tariffs, taxes, land distribution, investments in infrastructure and extension services have all been employed in Turkey to achieve objectives ranging from income and price stability, stimulating output and income and satisfying demand, to improving the balance of payments. Five ministries and about 20 semi-autonomous agencies, i.e. State enterprises, State monopolies and unions of cooperatives (sales, credit, or both), have been involved in the formulation and administration of agricultural pricing policies. At the beginning of the 1980s, almost all major agricultural products, apart from fresh fruit and vegetables, were under some form of government support, which constituted over 90 percent of the total value of agricultural production. Similarly, most modern inputs were either produced, distributed or priced by the government. Infrastructural investments, irrigation schemes, land development and conservation and extension services continue to provide inputs to agriculture free of charge or at subsidized prices.


Figure 20


3.84 Although these measures were not motivated by food security concerns alone, their contribution to the achievement of high levels of food security cannot be denied. Through such measures, the use and adoption of new technologies has been encouraged while demand for agricultural labour, agricultural productivity and incomes has also increased (Kasnakoglu, Akder and Gürkan, 1990). Nevertheless, such achievements have been brought about at a high cost. Data show that by 1991-1993, government expenditure on agriculture through commodity price support measures had reached about 35 percent of agricultural GDP, peaking at US$8.9 billion in 1992 (FAO, 1996b). The pressure that such massive intervention creates on government. s budgetary resources, and subsequently on the general level of prices, is recognized by policy-makers, and attempts are currently being made to reduce the level of intervention, thus eliminating market distortions and emphasizing the targeting of specific groups who are most in need.


3.85 There have been no significant improvements in average food availability and household food security in Zimbabwe over the past three decades, which places the country among those that can be considered vulnerable. Productivity in the food sector has been on the decline since the early 1970s. The economic and financial imbalances that were created following full national independence in 1980 necessitated the implementation of an SAP in the early 1990s. Although the country faced two severe droughts during the same period (1991-1992 and 1994-1995), those crises have been managed without large-scale hunger and malnutrition as a result of the aid of the international community and a remarkably successful coordination of activities with other countries in the southern African subregion. Moreover, the structural changes implemented after 1993 in the marketing of the principal food crop, maize, removed some of the constraints on the markets. They also resulted in substantial improvements in the food security status of the most vulnerable population groups by reducing the price of the staple food crop.

3.86 Zimbabwe gained full independence in 1980. Restricted by the requirements of the Lancaster House Constitution, which granted independence to the country, and by the need to consolidate its political base, the new government did not immediately change the agricultural policies followed by the white minority administration in earlier years. During the first few years of independence, the government devoted much of its resources and attention towards increasing agricultural output within the existing communal areas (formerly the Native Reserves). Credit facilities, extension services, crop package programmes and marketing opportunities (particularly the number of depots) were all increased within the first five years. As a result the communal areas. contribution to the national marketed output of maize rose from 7 to 50 percent between 1980 and 1985, although there was no perceptible improvement in the underlying trends in overall per caput production. By 1985, communal farmers produced and sold more cotton than the large-scale farmers.

3.87 After 1985, the ruling party became more dominant and introduced some of the socialist policies espoused during the pre-independence days. Maize prices were government controlled and subsidies were established. The buying of maize was closely controlled by the Grain Marketing Board (GMB), with a minimal role played by private traders. Although more inputs were provided to the communal and remote rural areas, severe restrictions were imposed on the marketing of maize. Maize could not be moved or traded between non-contiguous communal areas. White maize, in particular, could not move across commercial and communal boundaries. Maize could be bought only by the GMB at subsidized official prices, so there was limited movement of surplus grain to deficit regions. This often resulted in maize being transported significant distances from the points of purchase to storage depots before it was processed into roller meal and super-refined meal at one of four large roller-milling firms. These milling firms supplied almost all the commercially available maize meal to both the urban and rural areas. The objective of the government. s control of the grain market was to ensure a consistent flow of maize meal to urban areas at prices that could be controlled and, if necessary, subsidized. Such a system involved transporting maize sold by communal farmers to urban areas for milling and then retransporting it to the rural areas to be resold. This type of marketing organization turned out to be highly inefficient.

3.88 The impact of these developments can be traced in Figure 21. Throughout most of the 1961-1992 period, Zimbabwe was able to produce more food than it used domestically. Nevertheless, however, the average energy availability and the status of household food security (see Figure 22) in the country were not very impressive, nor did they improve significantly throughout the period. Average food availability hovered around 2 100 Calories per caput per day and the country had low household food security status for much of this period. Despite wide fluctuations, per caput food production exhibited significant growth of about 2.5 percent per annum from 1961 to 1974. From then until 1992, however, per caput food production declined on average by about 4 percent per annum, with the exception of a few short-lived upward hikes. The decline was accentuated by the 1991-1992 drought.

Improving household food security through market reform23

3.89 By the early 1990s, the government of Zimbabwe recognized that there were serious imbalances in the economy. For a number of years, Zimbabwe had imported more than it exported and had built up a serious foreign debt. Continuous borrowing was needed to finance public-sector deficits. Fiscal deficits of around 10 percent of the national income crowded out private investment and created inflationary pressures. During the first decade following independence, the economy in fact stagnated with real per caput income remaining unchanged.

3.90 In October 1990, the initiation of the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (ESAP) was announced. The measures taken were similar to those adopted in other countries: liberalizing the economy, reducing the fiscal deficit, reducing and reshaping the government workforce and creating the conditions for attracting foreign investment. Cuts in government spending caused hardship, especially for the poor. To address this problem, the government established the Social Dimensions of Adjustment Programme in November 1991, drawing upon the Social Development Fund (SDF).24

3.91 Relaxing the policy and constraints, especially those on the marketing of maize, had a significant positive impact on household food security. The maize meal subsidies prior to ESAP were limited exclusively to roller meal, a refined maize meal produced by the large-scale millers. Wholemeal, an unrefined maize product widely consumed in rural areas from maize that has been custom-milled from farmers. own production, was viewed by large-scale milling firms as an unsophisticated product for which there was little demand. Consequently, wholemeal was not produced by large-scale millers.


Figure 21



Figure 22


3.92 When supplies of grain were available to consumers, whole meal was produced by small-scale custom hammer mills. For example, in 1991, small-scale hammer mills in Harare pro.cessed 8 percent of the city. s maize meal requirements (Jayne et al., 1991). Yet the set of policy restrictions before ESAP resulted in small-scale custom millers and urban consumers having difficulty in obtaining the quantities of maize needed for wholemeal production. Gross margins for whole maize meal are significantly lower than for roller meal.25

3.93 Research undertaken before food market liberalization predicted that the elimination of controls on maize movement into urban areas would substantially increase access to, and the affordability of, maize by small millers and low-income urban households. Household survey data also indicated that the demand for wholemeal was much greater than actual consumption as a result of prevailing policy restrictions on consumers. access to maize. Based on these findings, the Ministry of Lands advocated the removal of maize movement controls between smallholder and urban areas in June 1993. At about the same time, the roller meal subsidy, which was costing the government the equivalent of 2 percent of GDP annually, was eliminated. The price of roller meal without the subsidy quickly increased by 53 percent.

3.94 Urban consumers were publicly encouraged to avoid the effects of subsidy removal by obtaining maize grain and having it milled into wholemeal at local hammer mills. Research undertaken after the reforms has documented that first, within a span of two years, the proportion of staple maize meal procured through informal distribution channels soared from 8 percent to about 50 percent; second, the market reforms allowed urban household to acquire maize meal at 60 to 70 percent of the cost of maize meal manufactured by large-scale millers; and third, the cost saving to consumers was 7 to 13 percent of average household income among the lowest in.come quintile in the capital city, Harare (Rubey, 1995; Jayne et al., 1995). Government policy-makers and the general public widely regard these maize market reforms as being among the most successful aspects of structural adjustment in Zimbabwe.


3.95 Southern Africa has periodically been hit by droughts, most recently in 1991/92 and 1994/95. However, the 1991/92 drought, which devastated the subregion's agricultural production and induced unprecedented import requirements, will probably be remembered as the worst in several decades. As a result of that disaster, the subregion experienced a reduction in aggregate cereal production by more than 50 percent of the average. The cereal import requirements of the subregion more than doubled and some 18 million people faced the possibility of starvation. Fortunately, early warnings, rapid regional coordination and adequate international support resulted in a successful relief effort which effectively overcame widespread food shortages and the threat of famine.

Evolution of the 1991/92 crisis

3.96 The 1991/92 rainy season started on time in several countries of the subregion (in October 1991), but subsequent precipitation was below normal, seriously retarding crop development, notably in South Africa, Zimbabwe and central and southern parts of Mozambique. Until early January 1992, crop conditions were still good in Angola, Malawi, Namibia, the United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia, and about average elsewhere. However, prolonged hot and dry conditions in January and February during the crucial pollination stages severely affected crop growth throughout the subregion except in Angola and the United Republic of Tanzania, causing widespread crop failures or seriously reducing yield potential. Rains in March came too late to save crops in most countries as, although they did benefit pastures and limit the drought. s impact on the livestock sector in some countries, irreversible damage to food crops and livestock had already occurred in most areas.

3.97 By December 1991, the early warning systems in the subregion supported by FAO signalled developing drought conditions. By the end of February 1992, it was confirmed that the situation looked critical. Apart from severe food shortages, the drought put at risk dwindling water supplies, the livestock sector and the general well-being of the population.

3.98 Mozambique was the most seriously affected country, as drought compounded the adverse effects of years of civil strife on food production. The almost complete crop failure in many areas of the country resulted in significant movements of drought-affected and war-displaced people in search of food and water, and some 3 million people were exposed to famine. Adding to the food shortages created by the drought was the low level of cereal stocks in the subregion. Traditionally, most of the coarse grain deficits in the countries of the subregion have been met by exports from South Africa and Zimbabwe and, to a much lesser extent, from Malawi, Zambia or the United Republic of Tanzania. However, following mediocre harvests in 1991, both South Africa and Zimbabwe had depleted their maize stocks and were themselves severely hit by the drought. As a result, these exporting countries were faced with the prospect of having to import substantial quantities of maize in 1992/93. Crop conditions were somewhat better in the United Republic of Tanzania, but the country did not have any surplus for export.

Action taken and results: the 1991/92 drought

3.99 Following the initial early warning alerts of the impending drought emergency, a series of joint FAO/World Food Programme (WFP) Crop and Food Supply Assessment Missions visited the subregion in March and April 1992 when crops were nearing maturity. These missions, in cooperation with the governments and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), reviewed the outcome of the 1992 cereal harvest and assessed the cereal import and food aid requirements for the 1992/93 marketing year. The missions also undertook a comprehensive logistic assessment of all major ports in the region, including those of South Africa.

3.100 The missions confirmed that the worst drought in decades had devastated crops in most countries of the region. The aggregate cereal import requirement of the ten SADC countries was estimated to be 6.1 million tonnes, compared with about 2 million tonnes in a normal year. In addition, it was found that South Africa (not a member of SADC at the time) would need to import 4.5 million tonnes of maize and 1 million tonnes of wheat. The total food aid requirement of 4 million tonnes included emergency assistance of 1.6 million tonnes, while a further 232 000 tonnes of supplementary food was also needed for targeted and vulnerable group feeding programmes.

3.101 Clearly, most of the countries affected would not have been able to acquire the unprecedented amount of food imports required for the 1992/93 period on a commercial basis. The FAO/WFP missions concluded that only a massive international relief effort would avert widespread food shortages and famine later in the year. With international attention focused on the deteriorating food situation in the former USSR, Eastern Europe and the Horn of Africa, special efforts were needed to mobilize the required international assistance for southern Africa.

3.102 The resulting Special Alert issued by FAO. s Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS) in April 1992 brought the severity of the drought to the attention of the donor community and was used as a basis for preparing a United Nations-SADC Consolidated Appeal.

3.103 The SADC countries reacted promptly in April 1992 by establishing a regional task force to coordinate their relief efforts, including procurement, allocation and transport of food imports. Six corridor groups were formed, taking into account ports, connecting railways, roads and other transport-related services, including the private sector, in order to coordinate efforts to move the massive amount of drought relief imports smoothly into the region. In addition, a regional Logistic Advisory Centre was established, with WFP participation and funding from several donors to collect and disseminate information regularly on all matters relating to port and transport activities in the region to avoid congestion and other associated problems.

3.104 Collaboration between the United Nations (UN) and SADC in assessing emergency food aid and non-food aid requirements and in planning for delivery operations culminated in the launching of the 1992 UN-SADC Consolidated Appeal for Southern Africa. Participants in this effort also included the World Bank, IMF and several NGOs.

3.105 The appeal was effective in capturing world attention on the plight of the region. International assistance was requested for a total of 4.1 million tonnes of food aid, including 1.8 million tonnes of targeted food aid and 2.3 million tonnes of programme food aid. The appeal also included US$223 million of non-food assistance for water, health care and agricultural and livestock inputs as well as assistance for coordinating transport and logistics.

3.106 The donors. response to the UN-SADC appeal was very positive as pledges covered some 82 percent of the requests for targeted food aid and 89 percent for programme food aid. Contributions were more than sufficient for transport and logistics, as twice the amount requested by the SADC countries was obtained and many donors, NGOs and concerned institutions actively participated in the various relief activities. Consequently, rates of delivery of the goods were generally good, although it was noted that the cost of deliveries could have been reduced if planning, scheduling and transport operations had been better.

3.107 Non-food assistance related to water, health and agricultural inputs and rehabilitation received less attention, but efforts to mobilize resources for non-food assistance extended well beyond 1992 and funds were provided through various bilateral and multilateral channels. Concessional loans from institutions such as the World Bank allowed countries to import food on commercial terms.

3.108 Overall, as a result of effective coordination among the countries of the subregion and with the UN system, in addition to the very positive reaction by donors, the drought-induced emergency in southern Africa was resolved and the threat of famine was overcome.

Lessons learned: the 1994/95 drought

3.109 As a result of the experience of the 1991/92 crisis, the impact of the 1994/95 drought emergency in southern Africa, while serious, was much less devastating than the previous one. The drought was severe in Lesotho, where production was virtually wiped out, and serious in South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe, both with respect to domestic food production shortfalls and loss of exports. Other countries also suffered the effect of drought to varying degrees.

3.110 A number of favourable factors helped to mitigate the full impact of the 1994/95 drought on the food supply position of the countries in the subregion.

3.111 The Special Alerts on the crisis issued in December 1994 and January 1995 were released to the international community by FAO. s GIEWS. These were followed by a series of joint FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Missions in the subregion in March/April 1995 in cooperation with the governments and SADC. These missions confirmed the earlier warnings and provided quantitative estimates of food needs in the subregion.

3.112 The governments of the affected countries and the international community heeded these early warnings of impending food supply shortfalls and made timely and adequate contingency plans. Large stocks held from the previous year. s bumper harvest by national marketing boards, farmers and the commercial sectors in several countries, particularly South Africa and Zimbabwe, provided a welcome cushion before harvest and the arrival of imports.

3.113 FAO and WFP took the initiative of advancing approvals of emergency operations for the seriously affected countries in order to avoid delays in the mobilization of relief assistance. The countries in the subregion undertook a number of measures to control crop losses by plant pests and diseases.

3.114 In June 1995, SADC launched an international appeal to donors to combat the severe drought in parts of southern Africa and to overcome the anticipated food shortages in member countries. Several donors responded generously to this call for assistance. Working with governments, UN agencies, NGOs and local partners, donors undertook a range of measures across the region to help vulnerable groups in particular, some of whom had not yet recovered fully from the effects of the 1992 drought.

3.115 Since the 1991/92 drought emergency, a number of positive institutional and economic changes have also taken place in the subregion. South Africa became a member of SADC in 1994. Angola and Mozambique achieved peace, and several countries have instituted more liberal market policies. These developments are now contributing to a strong recovery in food production and substantially facilitate marketing and trade in the subregion.


4. Conclusions

4.1 This short collection of country case-studies demonstrates how a variety of countries with different economic and social structures, natural and social resource endowments and political orientations have managed to cope with some of the problems posed by national and household food insecurity. They illustrate the relative importance of the policy environment in shaping the economic and social processes that ultimately determine the food security status of the people in any country. Despite the varied nature of the specific policies employed in different countries and at different times, it is clear that there are always trade-offs involved in securing the food security of vulnerable groups. Moreover, the multiplicity of policy objectives that have to be pursued within any setting must ultimately be politically, socially and economically feasible if they are to have any chance of succeeding.

4.2 In any period, however, the orientation and nature of the policies implemented are usually shaped by the nature of the constraints that are viewed as binding by the policy-makers in the country. For most of the countries reviewed in this paper, the 1980s has been the era when financial and economic constraints appear to have dominated policy agendas. Some of those countries, such as China, Turkey and Indonesia, which have traditionally attached importance to measures for increasing productivity in the agricultural and food sector by promoting research, extension and the adoption of new production technologies, have gone a long way towards improving their food security situation. There have, however, been others, such as Thailand, Tunisia and Costa Rica, where the road to strengthening food security has meant devising measures to target vulnerable groups directly. Still others, for example Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Burkina Faso, more vulnerable than those already mentioned, have been able to alleviate the food security concerns of population groups particularly in need by removing some of the policy impediments that were constraining freer operations of food markets.

4.3 Generally speaking, most of the countries treated in the study at one time or another between the early 1960s and the 1990s faced financial and macroeconomic imbalances that jeopardized the sustainability of their public expenditures and affected the performance of their economies. In some, heavy protection afforded to agricultural producers and/or food consumers contributed in a major way to the creation of such imbalances. Experiences with the structural adjustment and economic liberalization programmes implemented to deal with the imbalances seem to be mixed. To the extent that these measures reduce support provided to vulnerable producers and consumers, the initial impact on food security is likely to be negative. However, increased economic efficiency may subsequently have beneficial impacts on food security in general. Experiences in Burkina Faso, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mozambique, Tunisia and Zimbabwe, described above, have shown that such programmes really have improved food security. If, moreover, they are supplemented by appropriate policies that establish safety nets for vulnerable groups, as has been done in Costa Rica and Tunisia, the improvements tend to be more pronounced. Indeed, policies that are designed to target vulnerable groups, as in the case of food-for-work programmes in India, also tend to reduce distortions and imbalances.



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1 FAO/UNDP Cooperative Agreement, September 1994.

2 This section is an edited and condensed version of FAO (1996c).

3 It should be noted that vulnerability across the country is not uniform. According to International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) data collected in 1985 (a good year), in the populous, agriculture-based but degraded central plateau, average per caput daily energy intake (2 000 Calories) is lower than in the northern, drought-prone and livestock-based Sahel region (3 200 Calories). Moreover, the variability, and hence vulnerability, is higher in the central plateau. The CEDRES data, ten years later, confirm the regional disparity, by comparing the central plateau and the most productive zone, the Sudano-Guinean zone. The annual average energy consumption of 2 900 Calories for the Guinean zone exceeds the 2 500 Calories in the central plateau. Overall, the micro data suggest higher energy access but are not out of range with the national data and underline the importance of both regional and seasonal dimensions in designing food security programmes.

4 The period covered in this case-study (1961-1991) is prior to the 1991 signing of an adjustment programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF)/World Bank, and therefore the potential impact of the changing macroeconomic environment on food security is not addressed. Likewise, the government has recently (1993) initiated specific food security, poverty-reducing programmes in selected rural areas that are supported by the World Bank. These income-generating activities target mainly women, on the assumption that female-controlled income is more likely to raise food security than is male-controlled income. It is however too early to assess the net impact of these programmes.

5 This is a condensed and edited version of Lin (1995).

6 Because of the difficulty in supervising agricultural teamwork, the success of an agricultural collective depends on a contract of self-discipline which can only be sustained in a voluntarily formed team. Before the communal movement in the autumn of 1958, a farmer. s participation in an agricultural collective was voluntary. After the movement started, participation became compulsory. As a result, the self-enforcing contract could not be sustained and agricultural productivity collapsed (see Lin, 1990, 1993 , 1995).

7 This is a condensed and edited version of FAO (1995c).

8 One interesting aspect of food imports in Costa Rica is the importance of food aid. Over the 1971-1991 period, cereal food aid constituted more than one-quarter of the food imports in energy equivalents. Although this share has recently fallen to around 23 percent (1990-1992), cereal aid still makes up 6 percent of per caput food availability for human consumption.

9 This is a condensed and edited version of FAO (1995d).

10 This section is a condensed and edited version of FAO (1995h).

11 This section is a highly stylized summary of the conclusions contained in Drèze and Sen (1989).

12 This is a condensed and edited version of FAO (1995i).

13 Based on World Bank (1992).

14 This section is based on FAO (1996e).

15 It is important to note that Mozambique had no history of free private markets prior to the late 1980s. Private trade under both the colonial and Frelimo (Mozambique Liberation Front) regimes was highly controlled, with fixed prices at all levels of the system.

16This is a condensed and edited version of FAO (1995g).

17 It should be noted that the sharp increases in cassava production for industrial use and as animal feed were also important for the apparent widening of the gap between food availability for all uses and human consumption.

18 Extensive use has been made of World Bank (1984) and Siamwalla and Setboonsarng (1992) in the preparation of this section.

19 This section is largely edited and condensed from FAO (1995b).

20 This section is based on World Bank (1995) and Khaldi and Naili (1995).

21 The coefficient of variation (CV) of per caput food production, measured in energy equivalents, for Tunisia is around 30 percent. The country with the next highest CV included in this study is Turkey, with 7.5 percent. The CV is the ratio of the estimated standard deviation of per caput food production around a complex trend line to its mean for the period 1961-1992.

22 This section is a condensed and edited version of FAO (1996c).

23 This section is a condensed and edited version of Jayne et al., 1995.

24 It has been unfortunate that, since the introduction of ESAP, the country has suffered two serious droughts. In both cases, although response to the early indications of a drought was delayed, the country successfully implemented several food aid programmes which prevented starvation and suffering of the population, largely thanks to the grain storage system of the parastatal marketing board. It has been difficult, however, to separate the effects of ESAP and the drought.

25 The limited quantities of maize available in urban areas for processing by hammer mills from official channels were supplemented by additional quantities of maize brought into urban areas illicitly.