Feed the Future
This project is part of the U.S. Government's global hunger and food security initiative.

Agri-Food Systems: Transformations and Food Security

This post was written by Jim Oehmke and is the first installment of "Policy Insights", a video-centric blog series focusing on elements of agricultural transformation and policy. Check out the video, and stay tuned for more!

Putting an end to hunger and extreme poverty requires transformation of the agricultural and food systems found in many developing countries. The core of this transformation is the metamorphosis from solitary subsistence farming systems that struggle to provide sufficient food to integrated farm and food systems that raise incomes, increase food security and improve nutritional outcomes. But the specific vision of that transformation may well depend on the eye of the beholder and what the beholder believes to be the critical problem.

If you believe that the biggest challenge we face over the next 35 years is to produce enough food for a hungry world, then you may want to encourage large-scale, mechanized, staple-crop farming.

If you believe that the greatest sin of mankind is the neglect of those left behind in agricultural transformation, then your vision of success may emphasize small-scale, sustainable rural communities.

If you believe that the sixth Great Extinction will dramatically restructure human lifestyles, then you might want transformation that preserves biodiversity.  

If you believe that the biggest threat to your children’s well-being is global climate change, then you may be interested in transforming agricultural and rural ecologies to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

If you believe that megacities may be unsustainable, facing growing slums and increasing inability to provide basic public services, then you may wish to promote planned, green towns in rural settings. 

These are just a few of the many areas in which transformation will impact food, nutrition and livelihoods.

At Feed the Future, we work to strengthen country systems, assisting nations to envision and achieve their own agricultural and food system transformations. 

Jim Oehmke is Senior Food Security and Nutrition Advisor for USAID. 

Agri-Food Systems: Transformations and Food Security with Jim Oehmke