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The Ebola epidemic adversely affected domestic agricultural production in the three countries. The FAO–WFP assessment estimated that food crop production in Guinea in 2014 would be about 3 percent lower than in the previous year. In Liberia, the Ebola epidemic, which coincided with cropgrowing and harvesting periods, resulted in an 8 percent drop in food crop production from the previous year. In Sierra Leone, aggregate food production was lower by about 5 percent. In the most fertile Kailahun district, rice production was estimated to be lower by about 17 percent.
Farms faced problems of labour shortages and market disruption as people feared the disease. With dysfunctional markets, transport and trade infrastructure within the affected countries, surplus producers were unable to sell their produce while consumers did not have access to food.
The Ebola epidemic affected not just domestic production in these countries. With international trade and border restrictions, export earnings fell sharply, resulting in considerably lower capacity of these countries to import food.
18 Ending Malnutrition of fruits and vegetables. If we use the WHO norm of 400 grams of fruits and vegetable consumption per capita per day, all of Africa (except the north), South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Central America do not even have supplies of fruits and vegetables to meet that level of consumption. Fruits and vegetables are often seasonally produced and highly perishable. It is estimated that, globally, about 17 percent of fruits and vegetables are lost between farm and plate.¹ If one takes into account losses and waste, there would be considerable shortfalls in the availability of fruits and vegetables in most parts of the world.
Several factors constrain the supply of fruits and vegetables. The high costs and riskiness of production, poor access to credit, poor coverage and quality of extension services, and labour shortages during periods of peak labour requirement are among the factors that constrain the expansion of production of fruits and vegetables. On the other hand, limited shelf-life, poor packaging, storage and transportation, as well as price volatility and seasonality constrain the supply and marketing of fruits and vegetables.² Recommended levels of intake for most other types of foods, as specified in Food-based Dietary Guidelines of different countries, vary across countries and with population groups. It is nevertheless useful to have an overview of variations in the supply of different types of food across regions and countries. There are wide variations – from very little to very high levels of supply driven by excessive consumption – in the supply of animal-source foods across different regions of the world. In 2011, Europe, Oceania and North America had milk supplies of over 200 kilograms per capita per year, while it was only 48 kilograms of milk per capita per year in Africa, and 58 kilograms per capita per year in Asia. In the case of meats and offals, Oceania and North America had a per capita supply of over 100 kilograms per year, while it was only 20 kilograms per capita per year in Africa, 33 kilograms per capita per year in Asia, and 44 kilograms per capita per year in the world as a whole (Table 2.1).
As seen in Figures 2.2–2.4, there are considerable variations in the supply of different types of food across countries within each region.
Note: Map plotted using Gall-Peters projection.
Source: Based on data from FAOSTAT.
Figure 2.4 Per capita availability of food from animal sources, by country, 2011 (kcal per capita per day)
Access to adequate and nutritious food Access to food is a critical dimension of food security. Having access to food requires that people have command over adequate resources to be able to acquire – through own-production, purchase or public provision – adequate and nutritious food. This brings into focus issues like access to land and other productive resources, household incomes and food prices.
In addition, there is also the issue of physical access to food, particularly for people living in remote areas that do not have good transport and storage infrastructure, and for perishable food items, which lose their nutritional value and wholesomeness quickly under poor storage conditions.
Food prices and access to food The world saw sharp rises in global food prices in 2007–08 and 2010–11.
These price spikes were fuelled, most importantly, by a mandated increase in the use of food crops for biofuels, resulting in increased integration of food and oil prices, and increased speculation in commodity prices. Systematic reviews of evidence from across the world show that the food price spikes of 2007–08 and 2010–11 adversely affected the food security of the world’s poor (FAO, 2008, 2011b; HLPE, 2011). Although high food prices, if transmitted to producers, benefit surplus producers, the vast proportion of the urban and rural poor are net buyers of food, and are adversely hit by rising food prices. The high volatility of food prices creates considerable uncertainty in the food system and discourages long-term investment (FAO, 2011b; HLPE, 2011). High food prices particularly hit poor buyers of food who spend large shares of their incomes on food. Empirical evidence also shows that rising global food prices in 2007–08 and 2010–11 adversely affected dietary diversity, as the poor shifted to the most inexpensive and nutrient-poor food items to meet their dietary energy requirements. Such dietary changes have increased micronutrient deficiencies and exacerbated malnutrition among children (HLPE, 2011).
With the easing of global food prices, there has been some decline in the proportion of undernourished people globally. However, according to the latest Prevalence of Undernourishment estimates (Table 1.1), about 800 million people still do not get to consume enough food to meet even their minimum dietary energy requirements.
Access and diet quality Surveys of consumption and diet quality show considerable inequality, not only in overall levels of food consumption, but also in diet quality across economic classes and among different populations in different countries.
Darmon and Drewnowski (2008) have done a detailed review of the literature on the relationship of socio-economic status with diet quality, 24 Ending Malnutrition
Box 2.3 India’s White Revolution and Increased Milk Availability
The White Revolution turned India, once a major importer of milk, into the world’s biggest producer of milk (Figure 2.5). Since the early 1970s, milk production in India has increased six-fold, from about 20 million tonnes to over 120 million tonnes. What makes this huge growth of the dairy sector unique is that it is based on small-scale, household-level milk production, and a massive network of marketing and service cooperatives. India’s Operation Flood, as the public programme for organizing the dairy sector was called, envisaged organizing small, household-level dairy farmers into a structure of village-, district- and State-level cooperatives. Milk produced by small-scale dairy farmers is procured by village-level dairy cooperatives and transported to a district-level milk union, where it is processed and then marketed through a State-level federation of dairy unions (Kurien, 2004). Starting from a single district in Gujarat State, over the last four decades, about 15 million dairy farmers have been organized through 150,000 village-level primary cooperatives and 183 district-level unions.
Figure 2.5 India: Growth of milk availability and cooperative dairy sector, 1950–51 to 2011–12 The organization of small-scale producers under the umbrella of Statelevel federations and district-level unions has facilitated dissemination of stateof-the-art technical services.
Dairy farmers and other workers were provided with modern equipment and trained in hygienic work practices to ensure Transforming Food Systems 25 uncontaminated production, collection, and distribution. Modern veterinary services were made available through the network of cooperatives.
Cross-breeding was facilitated by training leading dairy farmers in thousands of villages to provide artificial insemination services. Currently, about 50 million cattle are cross-bred annually using artificial insemination (www.nddb.org/English/Statistics/Pages/Performed-States.aspx). Crossbreeding has resulted in significant increases in the milk yield of cattle (Gautam, Dalal, and Pathak, 2010). The increased supply of feed concentrates, from about 1.7 thousand tonnes per day in the 1970s to about 5.2 thousand tonnes per day in 2002, also helped raise the milk yield of the animals.
It was recognized early that providing remunerative prices to dairy farmers was critical for growth in the sector (Jha et al., 1984). An important aspect of the policy was to provide remunerative prices to dairy farmers through fatbased pricing of milk. Inexpensive techniques for measurement of fat content facilitated scaling up procurement using fat content as the basis for pricing, while discouraging the dilution and adulteration of milk.
Milk processing plants set up at the level of district unions allowed for cold storage as well as drying of milk. Drying milk during the peak seasons and its reconstitution during the lean summer months not only helped reduce seasonal variations in milk supply, but also facilitated transportation from regions of surplus production to regions of low supply. Insulated train wagons and refrigerated trucks have also been used to build a National Milk Grid to transport milk from regions of surplus to regions of deficit (Cunningham, 2009).
The huge expansion of the dairy sector in India has facilitated a significant increase in the availability and consumption of milk and dairy products in India. Since Operation Flood was launched, the per capita availability of milk has almost tripled, from about 110 grams per capita per day to about 290 grams per capita per day (Figure 2.5). According to data from the consumer expenditure surveys conducted by the National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) in India, average milk consumption increased from about 45 kilograms per capita per annum in 1983 to about 57 kilograms per capita per annum in 2009–10 (Table 2.2).
Given the very low consumption of other animal-source foods in India, milk is an important source of protein in Indian diets. By empowering small producers, Operation Flood led to a very impressive expansion of the dairy sector. This has had extremely important implications, not only for incomes of dairy farmers in India, but for overall levels of nutrition in the country.
26 Ending Malnutrition
Box 2.4 Home Gardens Significantly Improve Diet Diversity
Across the world, home gardens have been an important source of nutritious food. Home gardens are agro-forestry units in which a combination of trees, seasonal crops, and animals are raised (Fernandes and Nair, 1986).
Households can produce a variety of foods by maintaining home gardens in marginal spaces on or adjacent to homesteads. Proximity to home facilitates the tending of kitchen gardens and helps minimize loss of nutrients due to storage and transportation, as freshly plucked fruits and vegetables can be used as household food.
Home gardens only require modest financial resources and can be maintained using the household’s own idle labour (Jacob, 2014). Being on or adjacent to homesteads, in many regions, home gardens are primarily maintained by women, who combine work on the gardens with other household chores. In India, national statistics for 2011–12 show that about a quarter of rural women who were principally engaged in housework and about 8 percent of urban women principally engaged in housework regularly maintained home gardens (Rawal and Saha, 2015).
Studies across the world show that home gardens are in situ repositories of considerable biodiversity. Fernandes and Nair (1986) point out that plant diversity is a characteristic feature of home gardens across different ecological and social contexts. A study of about 300 home gardens in Java, Indonesia, recorded over 500 different plant species. A study of twenty home gardens in Nicaragua found a total of 324 species (Méndez, Lok, and Somarriba, 2001). A study of a Peruvian village recorded 168 species in twenty one home gardens (Padoch and De Jong, 1991). A study of 134 home gardens in Nepal found a total of 165 crop species (Sunwar et al., 2006). In a study of 400 home gardens in Kerala, India, Jacob (1997) found that the number of plant species in a typical four-tier home garden ranged from five to forty.
A study of 80 Mayan home gardens in Mexico recorded 150 different species (DeClerck and Negreros-Castillo, 2000). Okafor and Fernandes (1987) found that home gardens in Nigeria, comprising trees, shrubs, agricultural crops, and small livestock, were germplasm banks for a large number of plant species disappearing outside those spaces.
Fernandes and Nair (1986) point out that among trees, fruit trees dominate home gardens across ecological settings: “while the fruit trees such as guava, rambutan, mango, mangosteen, and so on, along with other foodproducing trees such as Moringa sp. and Sesbania grandiflora, dominate the Asian home gardens, indigenous trees that produce leafy vegetables (Pterocarpus spp.), fruit for cooking (Dacroydes edulis), condiment (Pentaclethra macrophylla), and so on, dominate the West African compound farms”. Given this rich biodiversity, produce from home gardens not only makes a significant contribution to the food consumption of households, but is also particularly important for dietary diversity.
In many countries, projects supporting home gardening, by providing seeds for a diverse variety of plants, other inputs and credit, and through awareness and training programmes among households, have brought considerable benefit in terms of nutritional outcomes. Distribution of homesteads as Transforming Food Systems 27 part of the land reform programme in West Bengal, India, resulted in greater use of homesteads for growing fruits and vegetables, fish-farming in small homestead ponds, and maintenance of small animals on homesteads.