World Food System

Attempting any global assessment immediately raises questions as to how the world should be divided up. There are obvious limitations in treating humanity as a single unit. The seven world regions derive directly from the standard United Nations regional classification of countries which was holding in 1992, and which groups together the nations of the former Soviet Union (FSU). The regions are broadly homogeneous in terms of their demographic, cultural, economic and agricultural characteristics although inevitably there is also very significant variation within each region.

Sub-Saharan Africa consists of all countries in Africa except those in northern Africa. So, as defined here, sub-Saharan Africa includes South Africa. This region contained about 9 per cent of the world’s population in 1990. The Middle East refers collectively to all countries in northern Africa and western Asia, stretching from the Arabian peninsular in the east to Morocco in the west. This region includes both Sudan and Turkey. Demographically the Middle East is the smallest of our seven regions, containing only about 5 per cent of humanity in 1990.

The next region is Soudi Asia, which contains nearly a quarter of humankind. It comprises the countries of the Indian subcontinent, plus Iran. India is the most important of these countries-with about 71 per cent of the region’s total population. The Far East is demographically the largest of our regional groupings and it is also one of the most diverse. This region covers all countries in eastern Asia (including Japan) and south-eastern Asia. China alone contains one-fifth of humanity-64 per cent of the total population of the Far East.

The next region, Latin America, comprises all countries in the Caribbean and South and Central America, including Mexico. In 1990 Latin America contained about 8 per cent of the world’s population (Gilland, 1993). There is widespread, if not universal, agreement that today several hundred million people probably don’t have enough food to eat-and that most of these people live in Africa and Asia. However, in trying to go beyond this simple statement the problem immediately arises as to the criteria to be used in defining people as inadequately fed.

This problem was illustrated by the socalled ‘great protein fiasco’ of the 1960s and 1970s when a UN expert committee set unrealistically high standards to define adequate protein intake. The subsequent amendment of these standards led to a significant downward revision of the number of people considered to be suffering from insufficient protein consumption.

The general view which now prevails is that most diets which provide sufficient food energy-i. e. calorie-intake probably also provide enough protein, although young growing children, and pregnant and lactating women, may have additional protein requirements. Also some traditional diets based upon root and tuber crops (e. g. cassava, potatoes-yams) may provide enough food energy, but not enough protein. However, to reiterate, the world food problem today is primarily defined in terms of dietary energy deficiency, or undernutrition. This constitutes the principal criterion for a modern definition of ‘hunger’.

We have already seen that cereals are the most important single element in the human diet. And in this context it is significant that, in addition to their calorie content, all cereals contain significant quantities of protein, albeit of variable quality (Barnett, Payne, & Steiner, 1995). Only a few countries conduct systematic and nationally representative surveys of food consumption which enable direct assessments of calorie intake to be made. So the most widely cited estimates of food energy intake and the prevalence of undernutrition are produced by FAO using various indirect procedures.

For each country estimates are made of the total quantity of food available for human consumption in a given period. This involves assembling data on national food production, trade and aid, and then making deductions for quantities of food which are lost in storage, fed to animals or used as seed. Next food composition factors are used to convert the food availability estimates into calorie equivalents. And, using population totals, these are expressed as national estimates of per capita daily calorie supply.

Diets based upon root and tuber crops are found in many specific locations, for example parts of the Pacific and the Andes in South America. But the main areas where such crops still seem to predominate in national diets are …

Turning to the food importing regions, with the possible exception of Latin America, they will all be significantly more dependent upon imports to meet their 2020 food requirements (in both absolute and proportional terms) than was the case in 1990. …

Only in sub-Saharan Africa do we find credible evidence that cereal (and to a lesser extent food) output has failed to keep abreast of population growth, partly because of the speed and volume of that growth itself (Basu, 1984). But …

Emulsifiers used have same caloric value as fat, i. e. 9 calories/gram but less amount is used which results in fat and calorie reduction. Emulsification using Milk Fat replaces fat on a one-to-one basis. The ingredients of this roll per …

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