Dr Shenggen Fan, Director General of the International Food Policy Research (IFPRI), presented his ideas about China and India’s policy options for their global food and nutrition security at Natural Resources in Demand Symposium: Global and Local Perspectives, 10th October 2012 at Waite campus, University of Adelaide.
China and India are facing increasing challenges to achieve food security. Globally, more than 50 countries have serious or alarming even extremely alarming levels of hunger despite impressive growth rates that many Asian countries, in particular India and China, are enjoying. In India, 225 million people or 19 % of total population are undernourished, whilst in China 130 million or 10 % of its population are undernourished. Interestingly, there is an increasing trend in share of population with overweight and obesity problems in both China and India.
Food security will be affected by various factors. First, countries experience positive population growth and shifting demographics. In China more than a half of its population live in urban areas whilst in India about a third living in urban areas. These countries have larger and wealthier population who will demand for more and better food due to growing middle class. Their dietary preference would also change, for example increase in meat consumption although culture matters. Unfortunately there is growing natural resource scarcities. Climate change impacts on agriculture.
China and India play large role in global food security. They have large share in global food consumption, although they also have large share in global food supply. They contribute to global production and stocks. Both countries experience positive growth in export and imports of food and raw agricultural trade. In 2011, China imported nearly 10 % of total imports of food and raw agricultural products. China and India also play an increasing role in global foreign direct investments (FDI). These FDIs help developing countries improve technology and provide cushion during the crisis.
There are various ways to improve China and India’s food security. First, they should expand agricultural productivity by increasing investment in agricultural resources and development and facilitate access to productive assets, inputs and services. Second, they should promote climate-smart agriculture by supporting triple win ie. adaptation, mitigation and productivity potential of agriculture. Third, they should increase market linkages by improving infrastructure, information technologies and vertical coordination. Fourth, they must invest in productive social protection programs by exploring new approaches eg. cross-sectoral to secure basic livelihoods and protect from risk.
China and India should promote mutually beneficial trade. This include policy to eliminate harmful trade restrictions, prevent resource exploitation and Dutch-disease effects on agriculture sector, and develop capacity of developing countries to export more agriculture and value-added products.
China and India should increase pro-poor FDI. This implies increased focus of FDI on agricultural and rural development, diversified and higher value added sectors and linking producers with markets eg. rural infrastructure. China and India should also explore new approaches for (public-private) partnerships. They should also promote corporate social responsibility.
Australia has an active role to play. It has long played an active role in advancing global food and nutrition security. Sir John Crawford served as an architect of the CGIAR and first-ever board chairman of IFPRI. Australia should exploit large knowledge-base and help build capacity, provide financial resources alongside lessons and advice, and overcome constraints of South-South and North-South.
This summary is written by Risti Permani