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Food Security in South Asia : Issues and Opportunities


  • Surabhi Mittal


  • Deepti Sethi


Food security is defined as economic access to food along with food production and food availability. Agriculture in the SAR (South Asian Region) is caught in a low equilibrium trap with low productivity of staples, supply shortfalls, high prices, low returns to farmers and area diversification - all these factors can be a threat to food security. South Asia still has the highest number of people (423 millions) living on less than one dollar a day. The region has the highest concentration of undernourished (299 million) and poor people with about 40 per cent of the worlds hungry. Despite an annual 1.7 per cent reduction in the prevalence of undernourishment in the region in the past decade, the failure to reduce the absolute number of the undernourished remains a major cause for concern. Estimates by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) indicate that by 2010, Asia will still account for about one-half of the worlds undernourished population, of which two-thirds will be from South Asia. Though SAARC countries have established a food bank to meet the needs of food security in the region, it has not been operational even during times of crisis. This is despite the felt need of member nations to evolve mechanisms to make the SAARC Food Security Reserve operational. It is against this background that this study has been undertaken. Conducted in collaboration with think-tanks from South Asian countries, it aims to identify issues relating to food security, the policy initiatives taken to tackle these issues, evaluate these policies and suggest measures to overcome identified constraints in order to improve the food security situation in the region.

Suggested Citation

  • Surabhi Mittal & Deepti Sethi, 2009. "Food Security in South Asia : Issues and Opportunities," Development Economics Working Papers 22917, East Asian Bureau of Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:eab:develo:22917

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Parakrama Samaratunga & Kamal Marunagoda & Manoj Thibbotuwawa, 2007. "Mapping and analaysis of the South Asian agricultural trade liberalization efforts," STUDIES IN TRADE AND INVESTMENT,in: Studies in Trade and Investment - AGRICULTURAL TRADE - PLANTING THE SEEDS OF REGIONAL LIBERALIZATION IN ASIA, volume 60, pages 33-74 United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).
    2. Parakrama Samaratunga & Manoj Thibbotuwawa, 2006. "Customs Mapping and Analysis of South Asian Agricultural Trade Liberalization Effort," Working Papers 2606, Asia-Pacific Research and Training Network on Trade (ARTNeT), an initiative of UNESCAP and IDRC, Canada..
    3. S. Narayan, 2009. "India," Chapters,in: The Political Economy of Trade Reform in Emerging Markets, chapter 7 Edward Elgar Publishing.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ahmad, Munir & Iqbal, Muhammad & Farooq, Umar, 2015. "Food Security and its Constraining Factors in South Asia: Challenges and Opportunities," MPRA Paper 72868, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Abid Hussain & Jayant Kumar Routray, 2012. "Status and factors of food security in Pakistan," International Journal of Development Issues, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 11(2), pages 164-185, June.
    3. Asghar, Zahid, 2011. "Measuring Food Security for Pakistan Using 2007-08 HIES Data," MPRA Paper 34030, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Muhammad Iqbal & Rashid Amjad, 2012. "Food Security in South Asia: Strategies and Programmes for Regional Collaboration," Chapters,in: Regional Integration and Economic Development in South Asia, chapter 8 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    5. Munir Ahmad & Umar Farooq, 2010. "The State of Food Security in Pakistan: Future Challenges and Coping Strategies," The Pakistan Development Review, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, vol. 49(4), pages 903-923.

    More about this item


    South Asia; food security; Safety Nets; Food Bank;

    JEL classification:

    • Q18 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agricultural Policy; Food Policy
    • O57 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Comparative Studies of Countries


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