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Re: What is the role of social relations and networks in household food security and nutrition?


UGAgri Group 7’s previous post dealt with private intervention of producers and consumers, in advocating social relations to ensure food security and health. This post is a bit of an extension to that; here we incorporate the government’s and civil society’s contribution to the same.

Public policy intervention for food security either by state or non-state agencies to determine whether it is appropriate, two criteria at least must be met: 1) In strengthening survival mechanisms, not only of the most vulnerable families but also of their most vulnerable members by explicitly focusing on any interfamily inequality in the impact of contingencies. And, 2) In complementing rather than undermining people’s own efforts at dealing with contingencies, with people being seen as actors in the process of change rather than passive recipients of aid and relief. The Government of Guyana’s Grow Local Campaign encouraging households to keep kitchen gardens is one such way. Governments can be much more creative than this though in encouraging consumers to capitalise on community, familial and professional networks to help themselves secure their own food security in ways that aren’t defined by the government by individual preferences expressed collectively.

Regarding producers, governments should seek to influence the environment affecting the agricultural sector, encouraging linkages between producers at all stages of production. This kind of surplus supply not only stabilises supply but prices and improves conditions affecting food security. The Government of Guyana has encouraged producers to do same in several efforts such as the Grow More Campaign. The FAO has made a point of saying in their project document[1] on building cooperatives to fuel rural development that the leaders of civil society are instrumental in organising groups in local communities and guiding self-help groups in taking collective action (pg.72). The NGO, Myrada in India taught small groups of farmers lessons on credit management. What the FAO has recognized as important, and too often is overlooked, is the confidence that managing their funds gives these members to achieve their objectives.

[1] Building Innovative Institutions for Food Security