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Food Security in South Asia: Issues and Opportunities


  • Surabhi Mittal

    () (Indian Council for Research on International Economic Rela)

  • Deepti Sethi

    () (Indian Council for Research on International Economic Rela)


Food security is defined as economic access to food along with food production and foodavailability. Agriculture in the SAR (South Asian Region) is caught in a low equilibrium trapwith low productivity of staples, supply shortfalls, high prices, low returns to farmers and areadiversification - all these factors can be a threat to food security. South Asia still has the highestnumber of people (423 millions) living on less than one dollar a day. The region has the highestconcentration of undernourished (299 million) and poor people with about 40 per cent of theworld's hungry. Despite an annual 1.7 per cent reduction in the prevalence of undernourishmentin the region in the past decade, the failure to reduce the absolute number of the undernourishedremains 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 world's undernourishedpopulation, 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 theregion, it has not been operational even during times of crisis. This is despite the felt need ofmember 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 withthink-tanks from South Asian countries, it aims to identify issues relating to food security, thepolicy initiatives taken to tackle these issues, evaluate these policies and suggest measures toovercome identified constraints in order to improve the food security situation in the region.

Suggested Citation

  • Surabhi Mittal & Deepti Sethi, "undated". "Food Security in South Asia: Issues and Opportunities," Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations, New Delhi Working Papers 240, Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations, New Delhi, India.
  • Handle: RePEc:ind:icrier:240

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    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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