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School feeding and possibilities for direct purchases from family farming

This publication “School feeding and possibilities for direct purchases from family farming in Latin American countries” contributes to the articulation of the sectors involved with school feeding, in the search for alternatives for the institutionalization and strengthening of school feeding policies in the countries; equally, it is hoped that in the medium and long term SFPs can contribute to the human right to food (HRF) and to sustainable human development.

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Healthy soils are the basis for healthy food production

The most widely recognized function of soil is its support for food production. It is the foundation for agriculture and the medium in which nearly all food-producing plants grow. In fact, it is estimated that 95% of our food is directly or indirectly produced on our soils. Healthy soils supply the essential nutrients, water, oxygen and root support that our food-producing plants need to grow and flourish. Soils also serve as a buffer to protect delicate plant roots from drastic fluctuations in temperature.

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Review of Global Food Price Databases

As part of a three-phase project, the Food Security Information Network (FSIN) sponsored a comparative study of the globally managed cross-country price and market information systems to assess complementarities and overlaps.

This report contains a review of these databases in terms of data collection, quality control mechanisms, management, use, analysis methods and tools. It includes recommendations to improve the integration and harmonization of the FAO, WFP and FEWS NET databases, in order to improve efficiency and enhance inter-operability.

A second phase is underway to begin implementing these recommendations, identify gaps in existing guidance, and review how market price data are collected and used in selected countries.

The ultimate objective of the project is to facilitate national capacity development on FSN information systems based on expressed demands.

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A Common Analytical Model for Resilience Measurement

This paper published by the Food Security Information Network (FSIN) proposes a common analytical model that comprises six components upon which resilience measurement may be based. It also:

  • defines resilience capacity as a multi-dimensional, multi-level mediator of shocks and stressors;
  • identifies the points at which data should be collected;
  • highlights the need to collect data on initial states, shocks, subsequent (post-shock) states and contextual influences;
  • proposes how to construct resilience capacity measures using ten categories of indicators;
  • outlines the importance of using multiple (quantitative and qualitative) methods and both objective and subjective indicators; and
  • describes estimation models that might be used to assess the impact of resilience.

The next outputs of the TWG will be short papers which contain guidance in targeted areas of resilience measurement.

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Resilience Measurement Principles - Toward an Agenda for Measurement Design

The Food Security Information Network (FSIN) supports the development and harmonization of resilience measurement methods. A technical working group composed of renowned experts was constituted to lead the identification of resilience measurement principles and the development of a common analytical framework and technical guidelines for measurement.

This paper is an initial step toward the development of resilience measurement design used by stakeholders (e.g. programme staff, monitoring and evaluation, policy makers). It outlines:

  • A definition of resilience
  • A series of measurement design principles
  • General technical guidelines for Resilience Measurement commonly used to promote rigor in all measurement approaches
  • A set of substantive issues and analytical concerns

This publication is the first in a series of three papers that will be issued over the course of the next year, which will focus on an analytical framework that addresses the challenges, issues and concerns associated with resilience measurement.

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Trade Liberalization and Food Security: For a New Green Revolution in Africa

The purpose of this study is to provide a framework in order to analyze the relation between trade liberalization and food security in Africa. From the 80s, the Bretton Woods institutions consider trade liberalization as a solution to achieve food security in Africa. In this study, the analysis of food security indicators is based on: availability, accessibility and stability / volatility. The situation is that several years after the application of this trade policy, the goal is still not achieved. Thus, reforming agricultural policies in Africa, a fair multilateral trade, the necessary facilities for the African countries to access international markets, and maintaining complementarity between Multilateralism and Regionalism are necessary conditions to promote food security in Africa.

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Agricultural Trade Policies and Food Security: Is there a Causal Relationship?

The aim of this paper is to assess the causal impact of trade policy distortions on food security. The added value of this work is twofold: i) its use of a non-parametric matching technique with continuous treatment, namely the Generalised Propensity Score (GPS) to address the self selection bias; ii) its analysis of heterogeneity in treatment (by commodities) as well as in outcome (i.e. different dimensions of food security). The results of our estimates clearly show that trade policy distortions are, overall, significantly correlated with the various dimensions of food security analysed. Both discrimination against agriculture and ’excessive’ support lead to poor performances in all dimensions of food security (availability, access, utilisation and stability).

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Improving food safety and quality along the chain to protect public health, support fair food trade and contribute to food security and economic development

Ensuring food safety is a public health priority, and an essential step to achieving food security. Effective food safety and quality management systems are key not only to safeguarding the health and well-being of people but also to fostering economic development and improving livelihoods by promoting access to domestic, regional and international markets

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Why has Africa become a net food importer?

That Africa has become a net importer of food and of agricultural products, despite its vast agricultural potential, is puzzling. Using data mainly for the period 1960-2007, this report seeks to explain Africa’s food-trade deficit since the mid-1970s. The core finding is that population growth, low and stagnating agricultural productivity, policy distortions, weak institutions and poor infrastructure are the main reasons. A typology of African countries based on data between 2000 and 2005 reveals that the state of food import dependency is different across the continent and varies according to countries’ levels of income. Although the few and relatively rich countries in Africa had the highest net food imports per capita (USD 185 per year in real terms), they had ample means to pay for their food import bills using revenue from non-agricultural sources. Conversely, the majority of the Africa’s low-income countries (mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa), where twothird of its population lives, had been net food importers; they imported far less food per capita (USD 17 per year) but had difficulty covering their food imports bills, as their export revenues were limited. Overall, between 1980 and 2007, Africa’s total net food imports in real term grew at 3.4 percent per year, but this growth was mostly fuelled by population growth (2.6 percent per year); the increase in per capita food import was only about 0.8 percent per year. Food consumption on per capita basis grew only at about 1 percent per year, while food production grew at an even smaller rate of less than 0.1 percent per year. The slow growth of food consumption and imports per capita is consistent with the weak economic growth and unchanged dietary pattern in the continent. Food import share, regardless of income levels, is relatively small and represents less than 5 percent of per capita income (GDP per capita). Because the share of food expense in household income is generally high in Africa, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, that the share of food imports over GDP is small implies that domestic production has largely contributed to feeding Africa’s population. Still, domestic food production has remained relatively low and increased only by 2.7 percent per year, just barely above population growth rate. This implies that any increase in per capita consumption had to be met by an increase in imports. The weak growth in food production arises from various constraints including those linked directly to agricultural productivity. Data and evidence from literature highlight that technical, infrastructural and institutional constraints share the blame. Likewise, distortions arising from both internal and external economic and agricultural policies (especially the protection and subsidies from developed countries and taxation on food production within Africa) have affected food productivity, production and trade in Africa. However, the examples of a few successful practices in African agriculture and the fact that the domestic food production has managed to keep up with population growth inspire optimism that the future is not all dark. There is a lot of room for improvement for agricultural productivity in these low-income countries to the point at which production growth outpaces the growth of population and per capita consumption.

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The contribution of insects to food security, livelihoods and the environment

Entomophagy is the consumption of insects by humans. Entomophagy is practised in many countries around the world but predominantly in parts of Asia, Africa and Latin America. Insects supplement the diets of approximately 2 billion people and have always been a part of human diets. However, it is only recently
that entomophagy has captured the attention of the media, research institutions, chefs and other members of the food industry, legislators and agencies dealing with food and feed. The Edible Insects Programme at FAO also examines the potential of arachnids (e.g. spiders and scorpions) for food and feed, although by definition these are not insects.