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January 11th, 2017

Sustainable food security and nutrition: Demystifying conventional beliefs

Published by Global Food Security,

This article in the journal Global Food Security explores the myths and realities surrounding the relationship between environmental sustainability, food security, and nutrition. According to the authors, policymakers and researchers alike often make inaccurate assumptions about technological innovations, gender, biofuels, and smallholder farming. Such sustainable food security and nutrition “myths” pose a significant challenge to the effective design and promotion of more environmentally-friendly agricultural and food systems. For example, often it is argued that trade-offs are inevitable between environmental sustainability and nutrition. However, sustainable intensification could avoid sacrificing the environment for food security and nutrition. This means increased food production is accompanied by more efficient use of natural resource inputs and reducing the environmental impact, through for example no-till farming, nitrogen-use efficiency, drip irrigation etc.. However, while technological innovations are vital to eliminate trade-offs, another myth is that there are silver-bullet solutions while they always rely on effective policies, institutions and infrastructure. Another myth is the positive link between economic growth and reductions in hunger and nutrition. The authors argue that impact varies depending on the country’s economic structure and that pro-poor policies are needed for a positive outcome. Also optimal farm-size should be a dynamic concept, depending on a country’s overall growth path and the relative size of its non-agricultural sector and urban population.  Overall, the authors call for a “business as unusual” approach that is smarter more innovative, better focused and cost-effective.

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