IFAD RESEARCH SERIES 6 - Why food and nutrition security matters for inclusive structural and rural transformation

The prevalence of undernourished people in the world has declined steadily over the last few decades, but almost 800 million people remain undernourished. Deeper and more rapid progress against food and nutrition insecurity is urgently required. Structural and rural transformation must play its role. In theory, inclusive structural and rural transformation – i.e. a transformation that delivers widely held benefits – implies expanded food and nutrition security, which, in turn, supports the transformation. In fact, where structural and rural transformation has been significant, it has been accompanied by wide and deep improvements in food and nutrition security, with food availability, food access and food utilization all registering significant improvements. Higher labour and land productivity linked to commercialization, specialization and mechanization of production processes has boosted food supplies. Livelihood options have expanded – especially off-farm – and incomes have risen, allowing households to increase the quantity and quality of food they consume. This has led to improved health and education outcomes, affirming and advancing core drivers of structural and rural transformation. But there are important exceptions and caveats. Even where structural and rural transformation has been rapid and sustained, incomes have increased and food supply has been relatively easy with comparatively low and stable prices, and food and nutrition insecurity has persisted, with undernutrition, overnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies coexisting in several contexts. Implications for policy centre on nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive measures and investments that render rapidly transforming food systems better able to deliver and support healthy and nutritious diets for all consumers, but especially for pregnant women and young children for whom malnutrition has long-lasting consequences. Also key are policy measures to counter the effects of forces and conditions that militate against expanded participation by small-scale farmers and traders in commercial food production and trade – effects that, by extension, hinder this central dimension of inclusive structural and rural transformation.

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 Record created 2018-11-15, last modified 2020-10-28

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