Food Security & Agricultural Development
The World Food Summit of 1996 defined food security as existing “when all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life”. It is commonly considered that food security includes both physical and economic access to food that meets people's dietary needs, as well as their food preferences. In situations demanding Humanitarian Aid, the supply of sufficient, safe and nutritious food to those affected is of course an immediate priority for SDC – followed by support for re-establishing the means to grow food.
An important milestone in global food security was the so-called Green Revolution of the 1970s and 1980s. This saw huge progress in the production of important staple food crops through intensive agricultural practices, often on irrigated lands owned by wealthy farmers. However, food availability in the market only assures that those who have purchasing power can eat. Indeed, the Green Revolution sometimes reduced opportunities for the poor to earn wages through manual labour and thus buy food. Following such realisations, greater development efforts were placed on working in more marginal, rainfed areas to increase food production - although conditions here are far more challenging. Recognising that most poor people in developing countries live in rural areas, and their best chance of an adequate and nutritious diet is to grow their own food, SDC strongly supports sustainable, innovative and diversified crop and livestock production on agricultural small-holdings.
Today, there are again concerns about meeting the food needs of the world’s growing population – concerns fuelled by rising prices for staple foods and a fear of unreliable harvests linked to climate change. As a result, many private investors and indeed sovereign countries are seeking to acquire land for the commercial production of food in developing countries, a practice often termed “land grabbing”. This controversial phenomenon can affect local food security and is thus also addressed by SDC, particularly with respect to supporting regulatory frameworks safeguarding the rights of poor people.
For more information on SDC’s Global Programme on food security and agricultural development, please visit: http://www.sdc.admin.ch/en/Home/Themes/Rural_development_food_security