Plans for this issue began with the theme ‘storing the harvest’. But then we felt it important to widen this subject to that of food security which raises many more issues. A useful definition of food security comes from von Braun (1992): ‘Access by all people at all times to the food required for them to lead a healthy and productive life’. With over 800 million people in the world today known to be hungry, some 190 million children known to be underweight, 230 million children known to be stunted in their growth, let alone the 2 billion people at risk from micro nutrient deficiencies – it is quickly clear that a huge proportion of the world’s population does not enjoy food security.
Three quarters of people coping with food insecurity live in rural areas. Drs Mukherjee highlight the situation of tribal villagers in India, no doubt similar to that of rural areas in other parts of the world. From Africa we have some guidelines for grain banks and ideas on running workshops to look at local food security. From South America, Miges Baumann raises concerns over fast disappearing traditional crop varieties.
Traditionally, men are often responsible for the main granaries of the household, while women manage the day to- day food supplies. Women struggle with their daily fears of failing to provide adequate food from available supplies. Women are more likely to spend any earned income on meeting immediate family needs than men. We look at both grain storage and food preservation, providing some practical and simple ideas.
Food security is an issue often discussed at government level or at numerous international conferences. However, we believe food security is most likely to be achieved when food is locally produced, processed, stored and distributed. There are many other topics we could have included but hope we have provided enough useful ideas to start you thinking. We would encourage you to follow the ideas shared by Pukuta Mwanza and set up discussion groups or workshops in your village or urban community to discuss local food security issues.