Nourish South Asia: Growing a better future for regional food justice | Food Security | South Asia

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Forty percent of the world’s hungry people lived in South Asia even before the food price crisis of 2008. Hunger stalks the entire region, from the mountain slopes of Nepal to the arid plains of southern Afghanistan. Although large-scale famines have largely been kept at bay, millions of poor people are unable to afford two square meals a day. Productivity from the resource-intensive Green Revolution agriculture has reached a plateau. Incessant diversion of fertile land for non-farm activities, depletion of ground-water tables and declining budgetary support have pushed South Asian agriculture to the brink. Climate change threatens to exacerbate these resource constraints in a region where 60 percent of farming is rain-fed. Even the most optimistic of projections indicate that average crop yields could plummet and the frequency and severity of disasters increase multi-fold. The prognosis for regional food security is dire. There are reasons for optimism, however. The combination of the food, finance, and agriculture crises has brought to public attention the magnitude of the hidden iceberg of hunger. Media channels, parliamentary debates, and even regional films are finally paying heed to the scale of undernourishment which engulfs the region. And with the recent establishment of democracy in Afghanistan and Nepal and the end of prolonged conflict in Sri Lanka, unprecedented opportunities exist to initiate structural changes. South Asian leaders need to rise to this challenge with vision and concrete initiatives before the impact of climate change further weakens the fragility of South Asian food and agrarian systems.
  Grow a Better Future for Food Justice September 2011 Nourish South Asia  This report was written by Swati Narayan, independentfood and education policy specialist. It was coordinatedby Amit Vatsyayan and Fe Loreli Cajegas.Many colleagues contributed with extensive commentsand inputs to the drafts of the report.Special mention should be made of Michel Anglade,Bertram Zagema, Zodi Thorpe, Monique Mikhail,Richard King, Danielle Roubin, Floortje Klijn, CherianMathews, and Anthony Scott Faiia, Teresa Cavero ,Stephanie Burgos, Mark Fried, Kate Raworth andDuncan Green. The report also draws on the inputsfrom Mehnaz Ajmal Paracha, Haris Qayyum, JaveriaAfzal, Robert van der Wolff, Ziaul Haq Mukta, VanitaSuneja, Binay Dhital, Prabin Man Singh, SudhaKhadka, Heema Khadka and Sandun Thudugala whocontributed through extensive list of case studies,notes and background research in Afghanistan,Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka.Production of the report was managed by AnnaCoryndon and Dow Punpiputt. The text was edited byJohn Magrath. © Oxfam International September 2011This report and information about the Grow Campaignare available at This publication is copyright but text may be used freeof charge for the purposes of advocacy, campaigning,education, and research, provided that the source isacknowledged in full. The copyright holder requests thatall such use be registered with them for impactassessment purposes. For copying in any othercircumstances, or for re-use in other publications, or fortranslation or adaptation, permission must be securedand a fee may be charged. E-mail  Published by Oxfam GB for Oxfam International underISBN 978-1-84814-978-6 in September 2011. OxfamGB, Oxfam House, John Smith Drive, Cowley, Oxford,OX4 2JY, UK. Oxfam GB is registered as a charity inEngland and Wales (no.202918) and in Scotland (SCO039042) and is a member of Oxfam International.Oxfam is an international confederation of fifteenorganizations working together in 98 countries to findlasting solutions to poverty and injustice:Oxfam America (,Oxfam Australia (,Oxfam-in-Belgium (,Oxfam Canada (,Oxfam France (,Oxfam Germany (,Oxfam GB (,Oxfam Hong Kong (,Oxfam India (ón Oxfam (,Oxfam Ireland (,Oxfam Mexico (,Oxfam New Zealand (,Oxfam Novib (,Oxfam Quebec (,The following organizations are currently observermembers of Oxfam International, working towards fullaffiliation:Oxfam Japan ( Italy ( write to any of the agencies for furtherinformation, or visit further information on the issues raised inthis report, pleaseemail: Acknowledgement AUTHOR: SWATI NARAYAN  Grow a Better Future for Food Justice September 2011 Nourish South Asia  Contents Acronyms and Abbreviations31.Introduction5 Window of opportunity7Seeds of change10 2.The Age of Crisis: Hunger amidst Plenty11 A. The equity challenge13Food in few hands13Food prices are perched on a higherthreshold14Marginalised communities remainlast on the breadline15Women and children get crumbs15Land in few hands17Landholdings are acutely skewed17More women toil on the fields butfew own land17Power in few hands18Corruption consumes food security18Middlemen eat the cake18Priority: Claim the right to food18B. The production challenge19Demand will increase19Population will grow and urbanise20Incomes will increase and foodhabits change20Supply constraints will increase20Yields are flattening out20Water is polluted and drying up21Agriculture budgets are declining23Smallholder farmers will be sidelined23Smallholders are being sidelined bycorporations24Fertile land is being diverted24A feeding frenzy for fertile land24Biofuels are displacing food crops25Priority: Meet the production challenge25C. The resilience challenge25Climate fragility25Climate hazards will increase26Agricultural yields will be hit hard26Disasters will trigger rise in food prices27Interconnectedness will createregional ripples27Food price volatility27Import dependence is increasing28Exports bans are distancing neighbours28Food prices are increasinglylinked to energy28Priority: Time to rebuild28 3.The Age of Prosperity:Nutrition on Every Plate29 A. Guarantee the universal right to food31Enact legislative guarantees32Improve delivery of social entitlements32Index all social transfers to inflation33Focus on women and children34B.Support smallholder agriculture37Protect land and forest rights37End forced ‘land grabs’ andforced ‘acquisitions’38Increase agro-ecologically sustainableinvestment in smallholders38Ensure smallholders are prioritised inthe food retail chains39C.Protect against climate change40Support inclusive climate changeadaptation40Advocate for mitigation of theclimate debt42Dismantle targets and subsidies forbiofuel production42D.Extend regional cooperation43Operationalise the South Asian Food Bank43End regressive ‘export bans’43 4.Conclusion: Food Justice in South Asia45 2
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