Food Security

A Food Security Definition

Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. Achieving food security means ensuring that sufficient food is available, that supplies are relatively stable and that those in need of food and water can obtain it. It is in the interest of all governments to make sure that people have enough to eat. Hungry people cannot work; hungry children cannot learn. Without a well-nourished, healthy population, development is unattainable.

Four Pillars of Food Security

Food security depends on four factors
  • availability
  • accessibility
  • utilization and
  • stability.
To achieve national food security, a country must be able to grow sufficient food or have enough foreign exchange to enable it to import food. Similarly, households must have sufficient income to purchase the food they are unable to grow for themselves.

Food miles is the distance food travels from the fish farm to restaurant or offshore fishery to fishing port to home; that is, where it is grown or harvested to where it is consumed. It is estimated the food for a typical meal in the United States will have traveled nearly 2,100 km. A typical basket of groceries from an Australian supermarket has food miles equivalent to two loops of the globe or about 70,000 km. Compare this with fish caught in a local lagoon and consumed fresh or dried in the nearby village.

The further the food is transported, the more pollution it creates and energy it wastes. It also won't be as fresh. Harvesting or buying food from close to home, not only helps the planet but increases the food quality. Support locally grown produce and local producers and eat what's in season.
Text on food miles modified from Alliance Catering, Australia, December 2010

Note that the November 2013 release of the FAO Food Price Index (FFPI) has introduced a number of revisions to the way the FFPI is calculated, including changes to its commodity coverage. The changes introduced did not significantly alter the values of the series. The revised FFPI has also been extended back to 1961. For more detailed information (in all languages) please see the special feature article of the November 2013 issue of the Food Outlook. An expanded version of the article, which contains more technical background is available in English only.

Fisheries contribute to Food Security

Oceans are the main protein source for one in four people worldwide, which means that over 1 billion people depend on fisheries for protein each year. Fisheries also provide livelihoods to billions of people and generate tremendous economic benefits. Coral reef fisheries alone have a net benefit of 7% of the global total and mangroves have an annual seafood market value of $7 500 to $167 000 per square kilometer. In general fisheries are most important to impoverished areas and areas with few alternative livelihoods, such as Southeast Asia, where sustainable fisheries employ an average of 55% of coastal residents. There is even greater dependency in isolated places, such as the Lakshwadeep Islands, Kerala, India where fish supplies 90% of the protein for residents and Quirimbas, Mozambique, where over 80% of households depend on fishing.

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