By Ronald Sullivan, BS candidate in international agribusiness at Kansas State University and 2015 Next Generation Delegate.
In a world where about 1 billion people live on under $1.25 a day, it is incredible to imagine the effects of an enhanced global food system for improved health. Ending poverty is a very complex issue with many components. However, creating food systems for improved health reaches into major areas of development such as education, employment and even self-sufficiency.
Enhancing the techniques in which food is produced, processed, transported, stored and distributed will increase the amount and the quality of education in developing countries substantially. Even in the US, we have seen that kids who are hungry during school don’t pay attention as long and learn less during class. We can imagine the effects on education in a food-insecure community would be even greater. Facilitating families’ access to cheaper, safer food would not only enable kids to attend school instead of working to earn food, but also allow them to gain knowledge to help them escape the cycle of poverty.
Food systems that aim to improve health also influence employment in developing countries. Kids who are given the opportunity to learn specialized skills can contribute to the work force in ways that otherwise would not be possible. This increase in the supply of skilled labor will be coupled with an increase in demand for jobs that result from an enhanced food system such as: distribution, farming, sales and processing. As a result, additional people will be employed and be able to better feed themselves and their families. As the population continues to grow healthier, they will be able to expend more of their energy on innovation and personal fulfillment. This concept is demonstrated by Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which shows that we first spend all our energy on fulfilling our physiological needs before we can move on to our need for safety and later our desires for belonging, self-esteem and eventually self-actualization. Healthy people who are capable of moving beyond their physiological needs will potentially start new businesses and better contribute to society.
An increase in education and employment both lead to self-sufficiency and sustainable growth. Sustainability should be a principal objective in any international development project. Development efforts are meant to be long-term; without a food system for improved health, such sustainable growth may likely be unattainable. An effective food system will provide the population with the resources necessary to be healthy and therefore self-sufficient—the main difference between relief and development. Simply giving nations food makes them reliant upon foreign aid and actually hurts domestic agriculturalists. On the other hand, creating a system that allows a nation to feed itself puts control of the future in the hands of its citizens. This sustainable, self-sufficiency resulting from food systems for improved health is the key to successful international development.
Olinto, Pedro, and Hiroki Uematsu. “The State of the Poor: Where Are the Poor and Where Are They Poorest?” The World Bank. Accessed August 13, 2015.
Read previous posts in the Next Generation Delegation 2015 Commentary Series:
- The Key to Sustainable Agriculture Development is Water Management, Tony Carr, MS Candidate, University Duisberg-Essen and the Radboud University Nijmegen
- Food Systems for Improved Health: Dairy Nutrition in Sub-Saharan Africa, Bettie Kawonga, PhD Candidate, University of Kentucky
- An Interdisciplinary Approach: The Need for Social Scientists in the Fight against Food Insecurity, Tara Mittelberg, BS Candidate, Northwestern University
- Global Agri-Food Systems: Where We’ve Come From, and Where We Are Going, Kelly Hodgins, MA Candidate, University of Guelph
- Biotechnology and Global Nutrition: Progress and Headwinds, Martin Erzinger, MBA Candidate, University of Virginia
- Shame in the City? How the Urban Poor Experience Social Exclusion and Food Insecurity in Kampala Slums, Diana Caley, PhD Candidate, New York University
- Scalable, Repeatable, and Sustainable: The Need for Private Sector Investment to Achieve Lasting Food Security, Erin Lenhardt, MBA Candidate, University of Chicago
- Food Security from a Micro Perspective: Why Bigger Isn't Always Better, Elise Ellinger, MPP Candidate, University of Minnesota
- Nutrition Education as a Multisectoral Response, Matthew Graziose, PhD Candidate, Columbia University
- Africa's Great Potential for Increased Food Production and Improved Nutrition, Esther Nampeera Lugwana, PhD in Horticulture, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology
- Leveraging Women's Empowerment in Agriculture, Soumya Gupta, PhD Candidate in Applied Economics, Cornell University
- Healthy Soils, Healthy People: Integrating Soil Science into Nutrition Security, Andrew Margenot, PhD Candidate in Soil Science & Biogeochemistry, University of California, Davis
- The Importance of Understanding Urban Food Flows, Dana Boyer, PhD candidate in Science, Technology and Public Policy, University of Minnesota
- Genetic Engineering: A Tool to Strengthen Global Food Security, Megan Fenton, PhD Student in Agronomy - Plant Breeding and Genetics, Purdue University
- Edible Insects as an Integrated Component of Sustainable Food Systems, Afton Halloran, GREEiNSECT and Social Science and Humanities Research Council Doctoral Fellow, University of Copenhagen