By some estimates as many as 100 million additional people joined the ranks of the chronically hungry as a result of the global food price volatility in 2008. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization, there are currently nearly one billion people worldwide undernourished as measured by caloric intake, while the number suffering from vitamin and mineral deficiencies, or "hidden hunger", is twice as high. Children under the age of five (and especially those under age two) as well as pregnant and lactating women are at highest risk for grave consequences of undernutrition. Typically, poor households respond to higher or uncertain food prices by purchasing more staple foods and fewer of the fruits, vegetables and animal-source foods that are vital sources of essential nutrients. It is projected that continuing food price increases will increase the challenge of eradicating extreme hunger and poverty.
Multiple short- and long-term measures are needed. For its part, HKI pursues strategies to diversify production and boost yields of small-scale farmers, to increase market access for women producers, and to improve household nutrition through Homestead Food Production. Sustainable agricultural practices, which minimize chemical inputs and promote enhanced local food production, provide the poorest of the poor a viable path towards improved household food security, escape from poverty, and resilience to climate and market perturbations. Also key are micronutrient supplementation programs, food fortification, nutritional surveillance, improving preventive nutrition and care practices through the ENA framework, and the community-based management of acute malnutrition when prevention has failed.
HKI first issued a position paper detailing potential responses to this situation in 2008, with an update in 2009. Please read our new 2011 update entitled Global Food Price Volatility: HKI’s Response and Renewed Urgency to Act.