The purpose of the paper was to investigate the techniques and methods used by past researchers and characterise food security according to various factors. Emerging issues affecting food security where also analysed to have a broad overview on the current aspects surrounding food security. The environment particularly the issue of climate change has been found to be affecting food security negatively. This has been mainly as a result of shifting weather patterns and extreme conditions which are making agricultural development in the developing world difficult. Therefore it is clear that environmental aspects have a bearing on the food security situation and should be well controlled. Closely related to the issue of climate change water and irrigation have been found to influence food security. The study in Ethiopia found that households with access to irrigation facilities were more food secure than those who did not have access. More investment is therefore needed to critically improve the water quality and irrigation facilities.
Techniques and methods which include surveys, global human index and probit models have been developed to try and measure the food security status of households. The methods have to a large extent been effective in measuring the aspect. However more emphasis was put into measuring few aspects of food security, whilst neglecting the other issues. Food security is multifaceted aspects which include aspects of availability, adequacy and nutrition. However most studies, though accurate neglected other facets of the issue by having a limited focus. This means past studies have not been broad based in trying to understand the issue of food security. The economic status of households has been shown to have a major impact on the food security issues. This can be shown by the studies carried out in Ethiopia and Zimbabwe, which indicated that those with higher incomes had less risks of being food insecure. Global macroeconomic conditions have been shown to be a determinant of food security in the developing world. As the world economy depresses there is less investment into agricultural activities resulting in cases of food insecurity.
It therefore can be concluded that there are many methods, techniques which have been used to understand the factors affecting food security. Policy measures on the determinants affecting food security can be judged to be the major factors affecting the food security situation. These policy measures have been found to affect the economic, environmental and political determinants of food security. Food security is thus a dynamic and multifaceted aspect which needs new measures to be tackled.
Macroeconomic conditions which include favourable producer prices have implications on the food security situation of households. The profitability of farmers has an impact on the income of the farmers and ultimately the food security of households. Therefore more research should be promoted for farmers to realise more output and reduce their costs of production. Agricultural production is a major determinant in the reduction of food insecurity and should be made profitable for the households in the developing world to continue producing. Developing nations should therefore have a minimum percentage of about 10% of their GDP towards agriculture, as this forms an important aspect in the reduction of food insecurity. Households should have credit facilities and subsidies to increase their output and reduce the poverty levels.
Technological advancement and research has been empirically shown to reduce food insecurity. This is evident in Kenya where the use of cell-phones by communal farmers to report market prices has been key in uplifting their livelihoods. Technological progress in crop development, animal husbandry and other facets of agriculture is fundamental in reducing food insecurity. If households and nations can be able to increase their output on fixed land, this can result in surpluses and help ameliorate the issues of food insecurity. Levels of malnourishment in children can be reduced by technological advancements. In this respect irrigation facilities play a critical role in this transformation. Irrigation facilities have become a fundamental aspect in the development of agriculture and ultimately reducing food insecurity. As the world is facing climate change, extreme weather conditions is affecting the growth of certain crops as frequent dry spells are experienced. This necessitates the development of new crop varieties which are able to withstand extreme condition.
Nutritional programmes are also an important aspect in achieving food security. Food security has been mainly focused on availability and adequacy, without much emphasis on the type of food which households are consuming. This has resulted in other households having food supplies in abundance but not meeting the minimum dietary requirements. Therefore people in the developing world should be educated on the importance of nutritious food in achieving food security. This should be inculcated in government policies to make sure that the population has adequate nutritional needs by having legislative requirements. Extension and education initiatives should therefore be made available to the people to make sure that they have the requisite knowledge which would have been researched on. The transfer of knowledge is therefore critical in enhancing agricultural production and make sure that nations and households are food secure. Land has been shown to be a critical determinant for food security. This is based on the fact that the more limited the land area to households the more risks for food insecurity of these households. Therefore it requires these households for land intensification to make sure that the limited land area produces the maximum output. Extension of the technology for land intensification is an important aspect in this respect to make sure that food security is achieved. HIV and AIDS awareness campaigns should be continued especially in Zimbabwe where a significant reduction in prevalence rate has been achieved. HIV/AIDS has claimed the lives of many people in developing countries negatively affecting the labour availability to these nations ultimately resulting in food insecurity.
Targeted social nets which include food aid should be well carried out to ensure that unintended negative consequences do not occur. Food aid has been found to negatively affect the market equilibrium of those countries which the programmes are carried out. More emphasis should be done in integrating the local businesses into these initiatives to make sure that they are not compromised. Fluctuations in food prices and output require developing countries to have food reserves and storage facilities to enable countries to have buffer capabilities in times of need. Food buffers should be in place to these developing countries to ensure that when there are international supply gaps, households and nations can help each other. For example in Zimbabwe institutions like the GMB should be capacitated to ensure that the countries have adequate food reserves. Linking the communal farmers to international markets is also an important aspect to ensure the food security of these farmers. Making sure that farmers acquire fair prices for their commodities is important for them to compete on the international markets. This however requires the costs of production of these farmers to be reduced by being linked to the international markets.
The issue of GMO’s has also had a significant impact on agricultural output. This has seen countries like South Africa embracing GMO’s and experiencing phenomenal increases in their total agricultural output. Therefore developing nations should consider adopting these technologies and to help them alleviate poverty. The food security issue is therefore a multifaceted aspect which requires all stakeholders to work together to meet the food security needs. It is also important to note that the constraints of food security are dynamic and new aspects are emerging. This requires tracking measures on these new issues to make sure that the food security measures remain relevant to the emerging concepts.