From Food Security to Food Sufficiency: Challenging the Narrative

The global population is growing at a dramatically fast pace: the latest data indicates that by 2050 9.8 billion people will inhabit the planet. These figures raise major concerns about how to guarantee food security in the future.

The solutions most often discussed in international political debates revolve around one factor: increasing productivity. In fact, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has stated that productivity should be increased by 70% to feed the expected world population in 2050.

However, this global population increase should not be used as an excuse to justify further intensification of productivity, a model of production which has already revealed serious shortcomings. Soil degradation, environmental pollution and loss of biodiversity are just a few ways the intensive agricultural model affect the environment and our health. In 2013 the FAO also stated that we already produce enough food to feed 12 billion people -food which is not being equally distributed, leaving 870 million people still suffering from hunger- and which is wasted throughout every step of the production chain.

Food security is therefore more an issue of poverty, social exclusion and difficulty in accessing food, rather than of food production.

The current model of agricultural production needs to change, but not towards a path of further intensification. On the contrary, the focus should lie in strengthening local food systems and small-scale productions, which help to facilitate local access to food and preserve agrobiodiversity. These measures are often not considered by policy makers, but they ultimately help create a more resilient food system. It is therefore vital to ensure small-scale producers are better supported, as they play a central role in guaranteeing food security for the next generation and keeping rural areas alive.

Slow Food calls on policy makers to make a real shift in the debate on food security, moving away from the intensification discourse and focusing instead on establishing social justice and promoting sustainable models of production.

Read the Slow Food policy brief focusing on these issues.

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