people to more than one billion. Ostensibly linked to the impact of food price fluctuations, these estimates are based on very weak evidence of purchasing power and food choices over very large populations. Poor urban consumers tend to receive more attention than rural consumers, even though it is increasingly recognized that differences in food and nutritional status among rural populations are large. Further, the fact that agencies reporting these estimates receive financial support on the basis of the projected severity of the problem introduces an element of moral hazard into their estimating processes.
Estimates of the availability and consumption of food products are also questionable on other grounds. For example, recent measurements by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi indicated actual yield levels for cooking and brewing bananas at twice the widely published estimates. Long-used methodologies for reporting annual yields are based upon very small samples and assumptions linking rainfall to output. Similarly, assessments of the trends and implications of changes in dietary patterns, particularly in Asia, are not well documented but are increasingly seen as likely to be of great importance for the protection of natural resources and future food security. Increased consumption of fish, for example, may imply depletion of ocean and freshwater fish resources. Recent initiatives by several Asian nations1 to purchase or lease land for agricultural production in Africa have raised additional questions about the evolution of food and agricultural policies in Asia. The relationships between intensification of agricultural production (including the production of nonfood crops), changes in both climate and the environment, and food security remain poorly understood.
The workshop planning committee brought together a diverse group of experts, including those responsible for key indicators of food security, malnutrition, and poverty; key critics of those metrics; and global agricultural experts. The workshop was structured to broadly reflect the dimensions of sustainable food security—availability, access, and utilization.
The first chapter in Part I addresses issues associated with indicators for measuring food insecurity and malnutrition. It includes a summary of the background paper prepared by Hartwig de Haen, Stephan Klasen, and Matin Qaim. It also includes summaries of presentations on food consumption indicators and malnutrition indicators. The chapter concludes with a summary of the general discussion. Chapter 2 includes a summary of the presentations by Martin Ravallion on the World Bank’s poverty measure and James Foster on the new Oxford Multidimensional Poverty Index, followed by notes from the general discussion. Chapter 3 focuses on natural resources and agricultural productivity and includes summaries of on measuring productivity and natural assets; on composite indicators for sustainable production; and on food security and the environment. Summaries of the general discussions are also included. Chapter 4 includes a summary of a proposal made by Prabhu Pingali of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to establish a peer review process for ensuring the reliability, transparency, and quality of the data and methodologies that are used to generate indicators of global food insecurity, hunger, and poverty. The chapter concludes with sample suggestions from participants for strengthening existing indicators and metrics and for making them more accessible.
The organizers of the workshop recognize that the content of the workshop and this summary report leave out many important and relevant metrics associated with food security,
1 Many others are also involved in leasing or purchasing agricultural land in Africa, including Gulf oil-producing countries and multinational corporations.