Human populations are growing and people are hungry. Does that mean the world needs more food? The answer depends partly on whether you focus on food sovereignty or food security.
My fellow blogger Jessica Duncan at Food Governance tells us what ‘food sovereignty’ means. Quoting the Declaration of the Nyéléni Forum of 2007, Jessica says that food sovereignty is ‘the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems.’
I’ve mentioned before how some people are saying that food sovereignty is the next big idea. This isn’t just privileged people spouting ideology. It’s being said by peasants at La Via Campesina and by peasants, pastoralists and other resource-poor farmers at Nyéléni. It’s being said by Monkombu Swaminathan (‘Father of the Green Revolution in India’) who calls for an ‘ever-green revolution.’
Jessica at Food Governance also tells us what ‘food security’ means. Quoting a ‘broad consensus’ from the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) at its World Food Summit of 1996, Jessica says that 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.’
To achieve food security, FAO has predicted that the world’s farmers will need to produce 60% more than they produced in 2005.
Yes, 60%. People aren’t breeding mindlessly, like bacteria or something, but kids aren’t dying so much. And many people aren’t so poor. Populations are still growing, but not so fast as they did. Here’s a documentary in which Hans Rosling tells us ‘The Facts About Population’
The FAO report says, ‘Global resources are sufficient, but the outlook is uneven… some countries will need… broad-based economic growth… Such countries are typically those characterized by persistent poverty and high population growth.’
It seems to me that FAO’s focus is more on food security than food sovereignty. Does this have to be a fight? Can both goals be achieved?