The role of the ‘missing middle’ in combatting hunger and malnutrition

Middle-income countries, including Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, and Mexico, are home to nearly half of the world’s hungry, despite their status as rising economic powerhouses. The latest Global Food Policy Report (GFPR) for 2014-2015, published by IFPRI, highlights the critical role of this group in any strategy that aims to effectively combat hunger and malnutrition on a global scale.

“It may seem counterintuitive, but these growing economies play a key role in our ability to adequately and nutritiously feed the world,” said Shenggen Fan, Director General of IFPRI.

The report calls on governments- especially of middle income countries- to reshape their food systems to focus on nutrition and health, close the gender gap in agriculture, and improve rural infrastructure to ensure food security for all. This includes investing in adequate measures and polices that will help regulate food production to prevent food borne diseases.

Chapter 6, Reducing and Managing Food Scares, co-written by John McDermott (A4NH program director) and Delia Grace (leader of Flagship 3 on agriculture-associated diseases), delves further into the topic of food borne disease risk. It presents an overview of recent food safety scares, which, unsurprisingly, are mostly transmissible between animals and humans.

Recognizing the variance by economy, the authors differentiate food safety concerns by three types of economies: developed (the ‘worried well’), least developed (the ‘cold spots,’ where food borne disease may be prevalent but under-reported), and lastly, emerging (the ‘hot spots,’ where ag intensification has spiked both disease burden and concern among the population).

As production continues to intensify, the likelihood of and concerns about food borne disease also rise. The authors call for better governance of agrifood systems, including increased consumer safeguards and improved production methods, as well as international cooperation and investment in safer food and agriculture practices.

 

Click here to read the full 2014-2015 GFPR.

 

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