DSA2016: Politics in Development
- Susan Sheedy (London International Development Centre) email
- Deborah Johnston (SOAS) email
- Nazia Mintz-Habib (University of Cambridge) email
The variety of ways that food can be acquired have been studied by a range of disciplines. This panel encourages contributions from various disciplines that seek to elucidate the various political dynamics of food access from an intra-household to national level.
Access to food is inherently political if we understand the wide variety of factors that structure food acquisition. At country level, the factors that determine the pattern of food exports, imports and aid transfers are fundamentally linked to issues of governance, corporate interests and geo-politics. Understanding these dynamics is complex as the reality is that food markets are interconnected with other markets in complex ways. The Food Price Crisis of 2007/8 highlighted not only the globalisation of many food markets and the consequent reduction in domestic sovereignty over food outcomes, but also the interconnected nature of food, biofuel and financial markets.
The ability for an individual to access food depends on a complex inter-play of the factors that affect the household and their status within it. Food can be acquired through own production, purchase, gifting and transfers, again affected by policy, social hierarchies and the moral economy. Within this complexity certain patterns of inequality are evident. Gendered differences in food access are clear, and so are inequalities in the character of diets between rural and urban areas, high and low income groups.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
An analysis of the gendered determinants of food insecurity in northern Mozambique
This paper develops a gender analysis of food insecurity in northern Mozambique. It finds that different gendered forms of deprivation, such as lack of secure employment and multiple labour demands, interact with each other and contribute the production of vicious cycles of food insecurity.
This paper develops a gender analysis of food insecurity in Cabo Delgado, northern Mozambique, by looking at women's earned incomes, time use patterns and agricultural work, in relation to food security. Given the vast body of literature that sees women as critical agents to the achievement of food security, this study sets out to address the relevance of these arguments in the context of informalisation of female employment and multiple occupations. The paper draws on primary research conducted with the use of mixed methods, including participant observation, life histories and a household survey, in rural and urban areas of Cabo Delgado. The study finds that different forms of deprivation, such as lack of secure employment and multiple labour demands, interact with each other and lie at the basis of the production of vicious cycles of food insecurity. Vulnerability to food insecurity develops through gendered dynamics and processes of social differentiation that make poorer, food-deficit households and those where women are the main earners more exposed to the risk of food insecurity. The implications are that women-focused and snapshot-based assessments of food security need to be replaced with gender analyses and dynamic approaches to food security.
Business Response to Food Price Spikes: A case study of cash crop wage workers
Under what conditions will business provide a solution to difficulties in food access? This paper looks at the response to food price spikes by large-scale flower farms in Ethiopia.
It is often assumed that higher food prices will benefit agricultural wage workers, because of a link between prices and wages. However, for employers in cash crop agricultural sectors, it is not clear that prices follow the price of food. Indeed, this relationship is far more complex. At the same time, large scale production demands large amounts of timely labour. In this case study of the Ethiopia flower sector, the reasons why some flower farms began to provide food to workers in the context of higher food prices is discussed. The explanatory factors are both domestic and international - and explain how and why large scale flower farmers take on greater responsibility for the reproduction of workers.
Do boys eat better than girls in India? Longitudinal evidence from Young Lives
This paper investigates the dynamics of gender disparities in the intra-household
allocation of food during childhood by using 3 rounds of Young Lives data. No differences in diets are observed until the age of 15. Specifically, mid-adolescent girls consume fewer protein- and vitamin-rich foods.
This paper examines gender inequalities in the quality of children's
diet, as defined by dietary diversity, among children growing up in
Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Dietary diversity is a fundamental
aspect of good nutrition: a varied diet is essential for ensuring an
adequate intake of the macro- and micro-nutrients
that are required for children's healthy growth and proper
The empirical results show that:
• While there are no gender disparities in dietary quality for children
aged 5, 8 and 12 years old, a wide pro-boy gap emerges in the
middle of adolescence at 15 years old.
• 15-year-old girls are less likely to consume the foods that contain
most of the protein and micronutrients that are necessary for
healthy development, such as eggs, legumes, root vegetables, fruit
• Boys whose caregivers who have high aspirations for their
children's education are particularly advantaged in the allocation of
food within the household.
The results are robust even when controlling for factors that may
explain the observed gender gap (onset of puberty, time-use and time
spent working or at school, as well as dietary behaviours such as
In the context of India, these findings are important for a number
of reasons. First, India is home to the largest youth population globally and adolescent health is a key policy priority. Second, improving adolescent girls' diets,
beyond being a development objective per se, can help to break
the intergenerational cycle of malnutrition.
Making the right to food justiciable: Prospects for India
This article analyses the prospects of India’s new food security law improving the access to food amongst the poorest and most marginalised communities, using a mix of survey and interview data analysis, and extends the conclusions to other developing countries.
Despite recent improvements, food insecurity remains a serious developmental challenge, particularly in developing countries. Continuing global population growth, changing consumption patterns, and deteriorating environmental conditions constitute further obstacles in this regard. In an effort to improve the situation, some countries have enshrined the right to food in their constitutions; however, legal recourse to ensure that one's right to food is guaranteed is generally unavailable, with the notable exception of India. In 2013, the Indian parliament passed the National Food Security Act (NFSA), which turns people's right to food into a domestically justiciable right. However, will this theoretically admirable change of paradigm within access to food translate into actual improvement in food security amongst India's poor and marginalised communities?
This paper explores this question using quantitative survey data gathered by the Young Lives initiative in the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and qualitative interview data gathered by the author in Uttar Pradesh. In view of the NFSA's changes to existing Indian welfare schemes, the paper first analyses the targeting and effects of these programmes on the food security of recipients using the survey data. Second, it examines the poor and marginalised people who were left out of the programmes and the likely underlying reasons, and ponders whether the NFSA can plausibly have an impact on these factors. In conclusion, the article discusses the contribution of the NFSA to improving food security in India and the extent to which these can be extended to other developing countries.
Clashes between liberalized agriculture market, and pro-poor ag-innovation promotion: A case study on impacts of Genetically Modified (GM) maize adoption in South Africa
The paper offers analysis how inequality to ‘access’ - access to information, capital, services and remunerations counter technological and regulatory objectives to address food security. The study presents South African experience related to GM maize integration in the maize value chain.
Three decades after its adoption, genetically modified (GM) maize remains contentious in South Africa (SA). More than 70% of maize consumed in South Africa (SA) is GM maize, which is pest resistant contain a protein (Bt) produced by a common soil bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). Bt maize is government-subsidised in order to make it affordable for farmers, primarily for the black smallholders farming community, who are struggling to benefit from the agricultural market and policy liberalization. The paper analyses the maize global value chain (GVC) which operates in a dualist market structure. Because of the historical bifurcated regulatory framework, mainly responsive to large-scale established agriculture, the underlying conditions causing inequality in the agricultural sector never resolved. Using the Institutional Feasibility Study framework (IFS), the paper identifies that the regulatory and technological efforts to address inequality has largely failed to because of accessibility. While 72% commercial farmers adopted GM maize, less than 5% black-smallholder farmers benefited from the government-subsidised Bt maize adoption for three decades. Access to information, capital, services and fair remunerations are related to two core areas - seed quality and contract governance. The paper recommends that crop specific competition policy can reduce competition among producers, processors and service providers in the maize GVC.
Drivers of Food System Change and Dietary Transition in LMICs
The paper examines determinants of global food systems change - retail and procurement systems, food transformation, markets and agricultural production - that are increasingly influencing structures of local food acquisition and thereby diets in LMICs.
Diets in developing countries are increasingly mirroring global food consumption patterns, of high sugar, salt and fat intake from processed and packaged foods and are less likely to include micronutrient dense foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables and pulses. This global dietary transition is accompanied with increased burden of overweight and obesity while limited progress has been made to tackle undernutrition. Although, demand side factors such as rapid urbanization and rising disposable incomes have been recognized, nevertheless, little is known about the supply side determinants that drive changes in food systems and thereby go on to influence diets in low and middle-income countries (LMICs). This is because existing evidence base has focused on the process of food systems modernisation, and links between food systems and consumer diets have not been conclusively explored. The paper reviews existing literature on food systems to identify trends in global food systems and their drivers that are key influencers of dietary transition in LMICs. Given the unevenness in the pace of food system modernisation across countries, the paper explores food systems of four LMICs, namely India, Indonesia, Mexico and Nigeria to better understand country-level determinants of food systems that go on to determine what's available on shelves and hence diets. Based on the evidence from existing literature and individual country case studies, the paper produces a set of hypotheses to better understand the transmission effect of changing food systems on consumer diets in LMICs.
Impact of Cash-based programmes on poor agro-pastoral households in the Bay region of Somalia: A structural path analysis
The paper addresses the issue of measuring the impact of food assistance for policy and programme design in Somalia based on a household economy matrix and a structural path analysis. The impact of cash transfers is evaluated with respect to access to food and the household livelihood.
The paper contributes to the debate on the role policy and programme design plays in food assistance. The innovative element of this study is the use of a household economy matrix, which looks at the household economy as a unit of production, consumption and market and non-market exchange and considers the household economy and sustainable livelihood approaches. Based on this method of organising data, a structural path analysis was applied to the normal economy of a poor household in the Bay Agro-pastoral High Potential Livelihood Zone in Somalia and the impact of cash transfers was investigated, not only with respect to their primary objectives (as in existing literature), but with regards to all spheres of the household economy and livelihood options. Understanding the poles that do not relay influence helps to anticipate negative unintended consequences.
The results underline the potential positive impact of food assistance on the livelihood of poor households in the analysed area, which is interpreted in light of possible constraining factors to the manifestation of such positive effects. The results also suggests the importance of reciprocal interactions between the household and local economy for the household and general recovery.
Patterns of food consumption and crop commercialization in Uzbekistan agrarian change: Is cotton in competition with quality Food?
This paper investigates the relationship between crops diversification and diets diversification though a political-economy analysis of the patterns of agrarian production and food consumption In rural district of Uzbekistan.
Uzbekistan is one of the world leading producers and exporter of cotton. Its agricultural policy is based on a state-led procurement system for cotton export, grain self-sufficiency objectives and most recently crop diversification towards fruits and vegetables. This setting has so far allowed the government to access foreign currency from cotton sales, and create a sort of resilience from international volatility of food prices. However, lack of micro-nutrients in the diet is present, especially in rural areas, which suggests a monotonous diet and scarce availability of different food groups. The relationship between agricultural production and nutrition is very complex since it involves production patterns of availability, prices, knowledge and access to diversified diet. The research contributes to the "food for subsistence" versus "crop for cash" debate through a political-economy analysis. By studying the differentiations of farmers over land, assets, labour and market among different producers, this paper will shed lights on insightful dynamics of agrarian change in Central Asia and contribute to the literature on nutrition security and agricultural commercialization in transitional capitalism. In particular, it will be explored which are the differences in nutrition, labour relationship and socio economic conditions in the cotton based districts versus vegetables districts. Not least, the research will try to understand how food provision works among different levels of commercial farms and which are the patterns of accumulation and power relations among them.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.