Food Security hasincreasingly become an issue in China as it has a population of over 1.4billion people today.
At the 1996 WorldFood Summit, it was agreed that food security is when all people, at all times,have physical and economic access to sufficient safe and nutritious food tomeet their dietary needs and food preferences for a healthy and active life asstated by Pinstrup-Andersen (2009). It should be noted, not everyone in chinais food secure, is this mainly due to income inequality? This essay will focuson accessibility, availability, utilisation and stability of China’s foodsecurity. China has atransitioning economy, borne out of the economies is rapid growth.
This causes anurban-rural income gap, which happens to be the major cause of incomeinequality. The urban-rural ratio increased by 0.9 between 1999 and 2009,before declining by 0.4 in 2013 (Zhou & Song, 2016). Meaning, manyresidents are moving to urban areas despite the policies and constraints, thegovernment put in place to close the gap. The rural urban migrants increased byapproximately 245 million people between 1978 and 2014 (Zhou & Song, 2016).
In general, quality of life is better in urban areas as there is access tobetter education, healthcare as well as high paying jobs. People living in the urbanarea have better access to a variety of good quality, nutritious food, giving themthe opportunity to be more food secure than those in rural areas. According toChristiansen (2009), farmland has decreased by 6.4% between 1996 and 2006. This may be due to increasing urban migration,where low-income households tend to move to urban areas to get a better qualityof life.
The decreasing rate in farmland is a threat to food security as thereis less land available for domestic food production, thus, making china morereliant on international trade. Another reason for China’s reliance oninternational trades it is the conversion of farmland to urban cities such as; coastalprovinces of southeast china Jiangsu and Guangdong (Chen, 2007). This leads todecreased levels of grained products as once land is converted; it is virtuallyimpossible to return it, to its original state, as there has been a physicaland biotic alteration.
In addition, human activity in urban areas is producinga lot of waste from industrial and other sources, will affect the soil leadingto the decrease in output and quality of agricultural area. As a result, pricesof reduced output will go up and become unaffordable for low-income households. Similarly, asincome increases, people’s taste and quality of food changes to more proteinbased diet, which in turn is a threat to food security. Rural households tendto spend more than 43% of their income on simpler food while urban householdstend to spend about 36% of their income on generally more expensive andexciting food (Christiansen, 2009). This translates to; lower income household can’tafford better quality food so they settle for cheaper food products. Low-incomehouseholds in particular eat more grains, with that said, the general increasein the quality of life means the demand for meat consumption has risen whichalso increases the demand for grain-based feed. The demand for these items isgreater in Higher-income households. The increase in income increases thequantity and quality of food, which cause the country to rely on imports, asthere is increasing pressure on domestic production.
Domesticproduction of food products causes prices to remain low, allowing low-income householdsto easily afford them. China’s fast growing economy has to rely heavily on foodimports to maintain food security, if this continues; the supply of food mayalso be at a risk (Zhu, 2016). For example; if there is a natural disasteraffecting the food supply, the combination of decreased supply and increaseddemand will cause price surges. However, importing food products allows theavailability of better quality and variety of food items, even during bad seasons.This in the long term reduces food production in the country and farm workersmay go out of business causing less people to be food secure.
To prevent this, the Chinese government are proactivelytrying to use sustainable intensification techniques, to develop better marketstrategies and high-level environmental policies (Ghose, 2014) to make Chinamore self-sufficient. As mentionedearlier, high-income households has a more diverse diet but this doesn’tnecessarily mean they are getting all the nutrients to live a healthy life.Urban areas experience higher rate of overweight and obesity but this is alsoincreasing in rural areas (Fan, 2015). Just because there is access andavailability for high-income households doesn’t necessarily mean they eathealthy. Other factors such as education and previous practices come into play.Increase in overweight and obesity could be a result of excessive intake ofsaturated fats, calories and sugar.
This can also occur in rural areas, as theiraccess to healthier food is limited. In general, theoverall micronutrient deficiencies in China are below the average for adeveloping country (Fan, 2014). However, there are some people with such deficienciesand are mainly based in rural areas. Low-income households cannot readilyaccess a variety of food, which can lead to micronutrient deficiencies in iron,vitamin A, zinc and calcium. Higher rates of anaemia can be found in theelderly, women, poor and rural to urban migrants (Fan, 2015). If people inChina are not getting enough nutrients in their diets, in effect, they are notfood secure. Instability inprices and quality is another issue for low-income household.
If prices go up,rural areas are not able to afford enough food. By the end of September 2011,the overall consumer price index was 13% higher than in 2010 with sharp priceincrease in all types of food (Ghose, 2014). This may have occurred due to rapid dietchange and lower domestic production, in other words, there was increasingdemand and decreasing amount of goods. This also affects higher incomehouseholds, as they are unable to buy as much as they usually do. Suddenchanges in price affects both high and low income households but lower incomehouseholds are affected more.
If China keeps relying on imports, prices willincrease worsening food insecurity. As stated, foodsecurity is not just having access, to available food but it is how the food isutilised and its stability. A major contribution to food security is disparityin income, although, there are a few other factors that generally preventpeople from being food secure such nutrition deficiency, price surges andeducational background. References· Pinstrup-Andersen, P. 2009, “Foodsecurity: definition and measurement”, Food Security, vol. 1, no. 1, pp.5-7.
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