Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Food Security and its Constraining Factors in South Asia: Challenges and Opportunities

Ahmad, Munir and Iqbal, Muhammad and Farooq, Umar (2015): Food Security and its Constraining Factors in South Asia: Challenges and Opportunities.

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Abstract

Since 1961, significant progress in terms of increasing food supplies has been made in South Asia (SA). Yet, per capita availability of cereals faces either declining trend or stagnated most recently. Currently per capita daily consumption ranges from 2440 calories in Pakistan to 2673 calories in Nepal - substantially lower than the world average. There is wide spread poverty in the region and ranks low merely above the Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) in most of the development and food security indicators. Micronutrient deficiency is also pervasive in the region. The situation highlights the fact that enhanced food availability on its own cannot guarantee good nutrition status at the household level. HIES data does not show any increase in daily intake of total calories per person in Pakistan— hinting at poor access to nutritious food. Major causes of food insecurity in SA include faster growth in population, unplanned urbanization through rural to urban migration, reduction in arable land, declining average farm size besides skewed distribution, low productivity, slow process of structural transformations and poor institutions, and changes in climate. The latter has emerged as a new real threat to food security, since most of SA is already hot and growing of cereals is under heat stress. Further rise in temperature could reduce he yields of some crops significantly. The adverse impacts of climate change on agriculture can be dealt with mitigation and adaptation strategies. The structure of farming and poor resource as well as poverty could be the major hurdles to adapting to climate change. It is anticipated that SA is likely to face severe food crisis by 2050 and food security shall be the critical issue in the years to come. The good news is that the countries in the regional have started emphasizing on assuring food security to masses by moving step forward from agricultural and food policies to food security and nutritional policies—accessibility, and utilization aspects. To effectively deal with the food crisis in coming decades, various strategies like paradigm shift from the policy of national level self-sufficiency to regional self-reliance in staple foods; sharing food production technologies and experiences; seed banking and exchange of genetic material; revising SAARC food banking mechanism; and, devising more effective strategies for dealing with disasters, are suggested.

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