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11 17 Lecture Notes - Food.docx

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Geography 3312A/B
Haroon Akram Lodhi

Food and hunger: an irresistible force?   The picture says a lot about the state of world agriculture: o women grow 60 – 80 % of all the world’s food, but own less than 2 % of the world’s lan Farming is an increasingly feminized activity throughout the South  Although the world is more urban that it ever was, the world’s people still rely on agriculture to provide food for their table  A huge irony, then, is that ¾ of the world’s poverty is in the food-producing countryside, where land and natural resources are, within the context of sets of social relations of age, kinship, gender, class and ethnicity, critical in constructing livelihoods Rural Worlds  In 2008 the World Bank divided the globe into 3 different rural worlds:  agriculture-based countries o Agriculture is the most important source of economic growth and the countryside is where poverty is found. Sub-Saharan Africa is the example  transforming countries o Agriculture is no longer the most important source of economic growth but the countryside is still where poverty is found. Most of Asia and the Middle East are the examples  urbanized countries o Poverty is urban. Latin America is the example  Like modernization theory, the Bank sees these 3 worlds as a linear ‘path’: agriculture to transforming to urban th  This path of change has historically been produced, until the 19 century, through a process of agricultural extensification: increasing food production through an expansion of the total area cultivated - colonialism  In the 20 century rural development, where it has occurred, has taken place through agricultural intensification: increasing the amount of food produced by a given area of land through the use of additional labour or capital o the increased use of manure or fertilizer o planting more crops per year o using higher-yielding crop varieties o irrigating o more labour or chemicals for weed and pest control  Since the 1950s, rural development and mirrored the other interventions we’ve studied as they are state-led interventions have mirrored trends in international development practice: state- led development in the period between the 1950s and 1970s was replaced by market-led approaches to the present  But rural development interventions have usually sought to try to energize farming in an integrated manner on a broad front using a range of interdisciplinary approaches: o community development o integrated rural development – using a range of methods to improve o participatory development – asking people what they need o sustainable livelihoods - in the textbook  Have these worked? Does the world produce enough food?  In July the UN declared that the Horn of Africa was suffering from a famine – the worst in 60 years  The definition of famine: o 30% of children acutely malnourished o 20% of the population is without food o Deaths are 2 adults OR 4 children per 10,000  10 million at risk in the Horn, and 2.8 million needed immediate help – despite a 9 month warning from FEWS Net  Is this typical of our hungry world? Or can we understand this in a different kind of way?    It might appear that up until the start of the global food crisis in 2007 the world was winning the battle against hunger  The World Bank would say that until the World Crisis hit, we had a control on hunger  false   But in absolute terms the number of hunger is unprecedented  In the last 40 years humanity has not been able to bring the numbers of hungry below 830 million: a shockingly inhumane indictment  Moreover, the global food crisis has continued to deepen over the last 4 years, driving tens – hundreds? – of millions back into poverty  Food security: from the 1996 World Food Summit, ‘access by all people at all times to enough safe and nutritious food for an active and healthy life’  Clearly, we live in a state of massive food insecurity  Food security ≠ food self-sufficiency: producing enough food for yourself (individually or nationally) Canada producing enough food to feed everyone in Canada – you can buy and sell food on the international market and attain food security  Chronic hunger: a continuously inadequate diet over a long period, generating malnutrition  Famine: Chronic hunger so severe that excess death is caused, not just directly from hunger but also from disease and conflict  But conflict is only correlated with food insecurity: it is not the key cause  For most it is the daily brutality of life that brings chronic food insecurity  Chronic food insecurity reflects the brutality of daily life Thomas Malthus  In a world of widespread chronic hunger, it would appear that we have reached carrying capacity  The belief that population pressures foster hunger and poverty originates with Reverend Thomas Malthus in the 18 century  His argument was simple: that food supplies grow arithmetically, but population grows geometrically  ‘The power of population is so superior to the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man that premature death must in some shape visit the human race’: Thomas Malthus   Thus, population growth is faster than the growth of food, causing hunger as a means of re- establishing balance between food and population: the thesis of food availability decline (FAD)  Food declines because of excess population growth – and you need the population to go down  In the modern world, neo-Malthusians are very common o a need to control population growth o this requires fertility reduction via contraception or abortion o excessive population degrades the environment and is a major cause of degradation  However…  Malthusian arguments are simply wrong on a global scale  There has been substantial technological change in poor country agriculture o in the 1940s and 1950s international finance and scientists came together to finance developments in plant breeding and agricultural science o this research produced high yielding varieties (HYVs) of wheat and rice o in 1971 the CGIAR system was established to disseminate the transfer of new agricultural technologies o the result was massive agricultural intensification Green Revolution  The ‘Green Revolution’ in wheat and rice commenced: o HYVs o chemical fertilizers o chemical pesticides o rural financial systems o mechanical irrigation systems – give water when necessary o modern equipment and machinery, including tractors, threshers and combine harvesters  The result: in the late 1960s and all through the 1970s there were dramatic improvements in wheat and rice production per unit of land  These were disseminated through integrated rural development programs in which the intended beneficiaries were small-scale family farmers  As a result, food production per capita increased substantially, particularly in Asia and Latin America  The ‘problem’ is Africa: cassava, sorghum, millet and corn have not had a Green Revolution  Nonetheless, according to the World Food Programme of the UN, the world produces one-and- a-half times the amount of food required to provide everyone on the planet with an adequate, nutritious diet: in other words, we could feed almost 10 billion now if we had to (although we would have to reorganize global agriculture) Why Don’t People Have Food?  Indeed, 2007 was the best global harvest in the history of the world  (Note: nearly half the food produced in the US is wasted)  Yet still, 1.3 billion, day in, day out—1 in 5—in the developing world are hungry, of which 25% are children  According to the WFP, a child dies every 4 seconds from starvation: a casual holocaust that we ignore  Yet if technical change, for better or worse, has increased agricultural production and productivity, vanquishing the Matlhusian ghost, why do so many people go hungry?  The issue: food production versus food distribution  The issue is not how is food produced, but how do we get it? People don’t have the money to buy the food they need  An explanation: failures in effective demand—people cannot buy the food they need  Why? Endowments vs. Entitlements  A first step: the need to distinguish between endowments and entitlements  An endowment is an asset that an individual or a household has o land o labour  the ability to work o physical resources o equipment o buildings o livestock o consumer durables (TVs, cellphones, etc) o stores of food o inputs for production o financial resources o cash o savings  For an endowment to alleviate poverty the individual or the household must be capable of using it as they see fit  Amartya Sen: this depends on entitlements  Entitlements are social relationships that govern the possession of goods and services and the use of those goods and services in a society  You may possess something, but you may or may not be able to use it freely and this is the case in many societies  Thus, possession of endowments is only one determinant of an entitlement  Additional determinants of an entitlement include: o the terms and conditions governing buying and selling within a society o what can be obtained without charge or cost in a society, for free o what can be taken away from the person or the household by an individual or a society  Entitlements thus comprise a wider range of human capabilities – the freedom to express agency and autonomy  There are two ways in which households can express their entitlements in poor countries o using their own resources in production to create items which are of use to it o using their own resources in the market by taking the ability to work or what it produces, selling it for money, and using the money to satisfy basic needs  Entitlement thus captures the combined impact of owning resources and how they can be used  Neighbours in a community may have a different set of entitlements because of a different set of endowments o small farmers o the landless  However: they could have the same set of endowments and different entitlements because they are enmeshed with different sets of social relationships  Example: o Student 1 and Student 2 have the same income o Student 1 only has to provide for themselves o Stud
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