How governments can tackle food security

18 March, 2013

Few would dispute food security is a critical issue facing the world this century, but a myriad of debate swirls around how we can best feed our population and alleviate security issues arising from food shortages.

A new report from the University of Sydney brings together expert research from a range of disciplines - including demography, economics, politics, climate change and agriculture - to offer policy advice on dealing with food security.

Food Security in Asia is the outcome of two years of research at the University's Centre for International Security Studies, funded by the MacArthur Foundation's Asia Security Initiative. The advice offered in the report draws on research into areas including: the impact of hydropower developments on fishermen living on the Mekong River; fishing disputes and competing claims to rich fishing grounds in disputed territories; the sale of most of Cambodia's arable land to offshore interests, resulting in forced evictions and civil conflict over land; the continuing drift of rural populations to urban centres put further pressure on cities to expand and thus, perversely, encroach on farming land; and the impact of rising sea levels and salinity on those whose livelihoods are reliant on the Ganges and Mekong deltas.

Professor Peter Curson, one of the team involved in producing the report, says the paper is one of few attempts to provide a holistic interdisciplinary view that meshes together demography, agriculture, climate change and political factors.

"Life is a composite of these things and this is one of the first attempts to bring people from different disciplines together to look at food security," he says.

"It extends beyond the fundamental question of providing food to looking at insecurity generally and the potential of food shortages to cause political unrest."

Professor Curson says Food Security in Asia has been prepared for the Macarthur Foundation and offers a series of broad policy recommendations which should be adopted by all governments in the Asia-Pacific region. The paper will be launched at the Centre for International Security Studies on Monday.

Source: The University of Sydney