Lessons Learned from 25 Years of Food Security Research, Capacity-Building, and Outreach.
November 1, 2009 - Author: Food Security Group
IDWP 101. Food Security Group. Michigan State University. 2009. Lessons Learned from 25 Years of Food Security Research, Capacity-Building, and Outreach
Decades of research have led to substantially improved understanding of the nature of food insecurity. Until the food crisis of 2007/08, a combination of economic growth and targeted programs resulted in a steady fall in the percentage of the world’s population suffering from under-nutrition (from 20% in 1990/92 to 16% in 2006). Yet over a billion people still face both chronic and/or transitory food insecurity due to long-standing problems of inadequate income, low-productivity in agricultural production and marketing, and related problems of poor health and absence of clean water. Among regions of the world, the greatest number of the food insecure lives in South Asia, while Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has the highest proportion of population that is food insecure. Achieving adequate food security for such a large number of people is increasingly challenging due to a combination of economic, social, political and environmental factors.
This document contains an overview of the past 25 years of research, capacity-building, and outreach by MSU’s Food Security Group. The paper describes key elements of the FSG approach and draws lessons regarding the value of that model. It also examines the insights gained from research and outreach, primarily in Africa, and their value to the U.S. Feed the Future Initiative in addressing the major current challenges facing food and agricultural systems.
MSU FSG researchers and their colleagues have been carrying out integrated programs of applied research, capacity building, and policy dialogue focused on food security—largely in Africa—since the early 1980s, building on insights from two decades of earlier projects that addressed agricultural and rural development. Three ten-year food security cooperative agreements—from 1982 through 2012—have been funded by USAID central offices and country and regional missions.
The strategic goal of these cooperative agreements has been to integrate research findings into national, regional, and international policy dialogue and program design to promote rapid and sustainable agricultural growth as a means to cut hunger and poverty. Strategies for achieving food security are analyzed within a structural transformation context that takes into account the role of trade, nonfarm income generation, and the implications of agricultural development for poverty alleviation and sustainable natural resource use.