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Three Reasons Why You Should Care About Food Security Policy

With so many competing demands for how countries — across governments, civil society, the private sector, academic institutions and other country stakeholders — invest in improving food security, why should we even care about policy?

Here are three good reasons why:

First, history tells us there’s no way around it. No country has successfully developed its agriculture and improved nutrition without effective government policies and institutions.[1] Across Asia, for instance, the highly successful Green Revolution launched in the 1960s relied on game-changing policies to enable adoption of transformative new crop technologies. In Mexico, strengthened land tenure and rights were a prerequisite to adoption of hybrid maize. The more recent successes of Bangladesh, China and Vietnam were clearly catalyzed by policy reform. And those countries that are currently transitioning to food security will clearly need good policies to guide this transformation in light of Sustainable Development Goals and other global efforts.

Second, many of today’s challenges can only be resolved through public policies and institutions[2]:

  • Income inequality is on the rise
  • Global hunger has increased, after nearly a decade of moving in the right direction, with much of this worsening blamed on conflicts and climate shocks
  • By 2030, Africa’s under 18 population will increase by two-thirds to nearly one billion
  • Land governance and ownership, long recognized as critical for agricultural investments, remains tenuous across developing countries
  • The frequency and severity of shocks are increasing and undermining the development progress achieved

Third, in striving to support self-reliance, helping governments and citizens identify, define and implement policy change is a natural starting point. Country policies embody the intentions and commitments of governments, citizens, the private sector and other country stakeholders toward development, part and parcel of a country’s path toward self-reliance.

Bottom line: If we care about food security, then we should care about commitments of country stakeholders to evidence-driven policies that help generate the incentives for firms and households to invest in food security.

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