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Abstract

Decades of research have led to substantially improved understanding of the nature of food insecurity. A combination of economic growth and targeted programs resulted in a steady fall (until the food crisis of 2007/08) in the percentage of the world’s population suffering from undernutrition (from 20% in 1990/92 to 16% in 2006). Yet over a billion people still face both chronic and/or transitory food insecurity due to long-standing problems of inadequate income, low-productivity in agricultural production and marketing, and related problems of poor health and absence of clean water. Assuring adequate food security for such a large share of the world’s population is increasingly challenging due to continuing resource degradation driven by a combination of population pressure and outdated agricultural practices, poorly functioning input markets, rapid urbanization, increased concerns about food safety, and climate change. This document contains an overview of the past 25 years of research, capacity-building, and outreach by MSU’s Food Security Group. The paper describes key elements of the FSG approach and draws lessons regarding the value of that model. Insights gained from research and outreach and their value in addressing the major current challenges facing food and agricultural systems in Africa are summarized in FSG (2009).

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