A Policy of Self Sufficiency

Yeo Teck Wei is a Singapore based freelance writer who contributes weekly articles to www.wazzupmanila.com.

What everyone should know about food security

Do you know what is really implied by the term “food security”? Do you know who are the key organizations supporting international food aid? What can you do to help sustain food security? Did you know that having sufficient food does not always equate to food security? Read on to find out more.

What does the term food security imply?

The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) states that food security exists when:

People, at all times, have access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.

In other words, all three conditions must exist before a country can claim having attained food security.

How do countries tackle the issue of food security?

There are two fundamental approaches in tackling food security namely, food & income sufficiency.

A food sufficiency policy,means
1. An intentional attempt to increase domestic production to level greater than consumption. The surplus is then stored for various intentions.
2. During famine, surplus is the freely distributed public or at low, affordable prices.

In short, domestic food production should be able to account for a huge portion of local consumption.

A income self-sufficiency policy means

1. An intentional attempt to increase the people’s real income through job creation and other means.
2. In times of famine, disease outbreaks and other calamities, people should have enough income to support themselves even with hyper-inflated food prices.

This policy is often adapted by countries that are geographically disadvantaged in terms of agriculture. Those countries are often left with no recourse but increase the people's real income.

Two Examples

China, with its food self-sufficiency level at 95%, is a classic example of a country that embraces a food sufficiency policy.

On the other hand, Singapore, whose geographical conditions (i.e. small land size, warm weather etc.) is not suitable for massive food production, manages to assure its citizens of stable food supply by raising their real income.

The two countries show the vast difference in how countries worldwide tackle the issue of food security.

Two relevant UN Agencies

The United Nations has two sub-organizations that assist countries tackling the problem of food security. These are the World Food Programme (WFP), and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The former is one of the world's biggest food aid supporters, while FAO acts as “a neutral forum for nations to negotiate agreements and debate policies.”

What can YOU do?

Food security is a concern for both the political bigwigs and the man on the street. Thus, it is of vital importance that people know what they can do to help. The United States Department of Agriculture has suggested in detail what the community and individuals can do. Examples given include:
1. Food drives
2. Community gardens

…And so much more.

For more information, please read the full report Together We Can!


The writer based this article's findings and conclusions on how six different countries tackle the issue of food security, after 2 weeks of intensive research.

The countries studied are: Singapore; China; Philippines; America; Britain, and Australia. Given the wide differences between national income, current political situation and other factors that were taken into consideration, these nations were chosen so as to provide a realistic scope and depth for the article. This article is not an official representation of food security planning for any country used in the article.

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