Sciences au Sud n°45 - July-August 2008
Michel Griffon, agronomist and economist, Deputy Director General of the French National Research Agency (ANR), goes over the causes of the food crisis. He suggests a set of measures to meet the food security challenges and gives a broad outline of the types of agriculture that should be made priorities in the developing countries.
For an examination of food security policies in Africa
The recent revival of media and political interest in food security has been prompted by an accumulation of factors. These include the difficulties of ensuring food supplies for a growing mass of rural and urban people living in insecure situations, repeated criticisms of States’ poor management of food shortages (in Ethiopia, Niger and Zimbabwe) and, more recently, the deterioration of food supply (short-term gap between needs and resources).
Since 2001, IRD field research has been focusing on the management of food-insecurity risk in the countries of the Sahel and neighbouring terrains of West Africa (Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal).
Plant-consuming insects and food security in the Northern Andes
Over 60% of people living in the rural areas of the North Andean Cordillera (7000 km stretching from southern Venezuela to northern Chile) are now living below the poverty line. Fewer than half of these populations have access to health services and 70% show malnutrition-related problems. Although the specific reasons for this situation vary from area to area, the problems associated with population pressure, soil erosion, extreme climatic conditions and political and economic stability are just some of the impediments to this region’s development.
The past ten years have seen the emergence in the North Andean countries of three species of moths of the Gelechiidae family whose caterpillars are voracious ravagers of potatoes, one of the region’s main food crops.
In this situation the IRD unit “Biodiversité et évolution des complexes plantes-insectes ravageurs-antagonistes” is working in partnership with the Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador to develop a research programme in that country with the objective of improving prevention and control of the threats these pests present.