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Food Security

An insecure future

By 2050, the earth’s population is expected to reach 50 billion people.

Over 10 percent of the world’s population today is undernourished; most of this group lives in developing regions. Feeding the world’s rural populations typically falls to small-scale farmers who are poorly equipped to feed even their own families. But providing an increasing population with nutritious, life-sustaining food will require a 70-percent growth in food production worldwide by 2050. 

Fields of Grain

Md. Ferdous and his wife are wheat farmers in Bangladesh. This staple crop is the backbone of many people’s diets. With new technology, like the seed fertilizer drill, Md. Ferdous was able to increase his yield this year. Ensuring a good crop means greater income for his family and more food in the marketplace. 

(Photo by Ranak Martin/iDE)

Risks and threats

Food insecurity is the state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. The struggle to produce enough food from season to season and year to year leaves the rural farm family extremely vulnerable to hunger, malnutrition, disease, changes in the climate, and natural disasters. 

Creating food security requires that we resolve issues around how food that meets people’s dietary needs is distributed locally and globally, as well as addressing price fluctuations that put nutritious food out of reach for poor households.

A key factor for success in reducing undernourishment is economic growth, but only when it is inclusive—providing opportunities for the poor, who have meager assets and skills, to improve their livelihoods. Enhancing the productivity of family farmers and strengthening social protection mechanisms are key factors for promoting inclusive growth, along with well-functioning markets and governance in which all voices may be heard. — FAO, State of Food Insecurity in the World In Brief, 2015

Meeting the challenge

It’s a multi-dimensional problem. To understand the drivers of food insecurity, here are a few of the questions we ask:

  • Diet: Can people acquire food that meets multiple nutritional needs?

  • Climate: Is variability in climate affecting food production patterns and amounts?

  • Health: Can people convert food to energy in the body when disease is prevalent?

  • Markets: Is food available in the places where people need it?

iDE believes that to achieve food security on a global scale, we must address inefficiencies in agricultural markets, and help farmers be more productive and resilient. iDE works with farmers to diversify their crops; adopt innovative, efficient irrigation technologies; and connect their production with viable markets to get food to the people who need it the most.