Food Security has
increasingly become an issue in China as it has a population of over 1.4
billion people today. At the 1996 World
Food 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 to
meet their dietary needs and food preferences for a healthy and active life as
stated by Pinstrup-Andersen (2009). It should be noted, not everyone in China
is food secure, is this mainly due to income inequality? This essay will focus
on accessibility, availability, utilization, and stability of China’s food
China has a
transitioning economy, borne out of the economies is rapid growth. This causes an
urban-rural income gap, which happens to be the major cause of income
inequality. The urban-rural ratio increased by 0.9 between 1999 and 2009,
before declining by 0.4 in 2013 (Zhou & Song, 2016). Meaning, many
residents are moving to urban areas despite the policies and constraints, the
government put in place to close the gap. The rural-urban migrants increased by
approximately 245 million people between 1978 and 2014 (Zhou & Song, 2016).
In general, quality of life is better in urban areas as there is access to
better education, healthcare as well as high paying jobs. People living in the urban
area have better access to a variety of good quality, nutritious food, giving them
the opportunity to be more food secure than those in rural areas.
Christiansen (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 quality
of life. The decreasing rate in farmland is a threat to food security as there
is less land available for domestic food production, thus, making China more
reliant on international trade. Another reason for China’s reliance on
international trades it is the conversion of farmland to urban cities such as; coastal
provinces of southeast China Jiangsu and Guangdong (Chen, 2007). This leads to
decreased levels of grained products as once land is converted; it is virtually
impossible to return it, to its original state, as there has been a physical
and biotic alteration. In addition, human activity in urban areas is producing
a lot of waste from industrial and other sources, will affect the soil leading
to the decrease in output and quality of an agricultural area. As a result,
prices of reduced output will go up and become unaffordable for low-income
income increases, people’s taste and quality of food changes to more protein
based diet, which in turn is a threat to food security. Rural households tend
to spend more than 43% of their income on simpler food while urban households
tend to spend about 36% of their income on generally more expensive and
exciting food (Christiansen, 2009). This translates to; lower income household can’t
afford better quality food so they settle for cheaper food products. Low-income
households, in particular, eat more grains, with that said, the general
increase in the quality of life means the demand for meat consumption has risen
which also increases the demand for grain-based feed. The demand for these
items is greater in Higher-income households. The increase in income increases
the quantity and quality of food, which cause the country to rely on imports,
as there is increasing pressure on domestic production.
production of food products causes prices to remain low, allowing low-income households
to easily afford them. China’s fast-growing economy has to rely heavily on food
imports to maintain food security if this continues; the supply of food may
also be at a risk (Zhu, 2016). For example; if there is a natural disaster
affecting the food supply, the combination of decreased supply and increased
demand will cause price surges. However, importing food products allows the
availability 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 workers
may go out of business causing fewer people to be food secure. To prevent this, the Chinese government are proactively
trying to use sustainable intensification techniques, to develop better market
strategies and high-level environmental policies (Ghose, 2014) to make China
earlier, high-income households have a more diverse diet but this doesn’t
necessarily mean they are getting all the nutrients to live a healthy life.
Urban areas experience a higher rate of overweight and obesity but this is also
increasing in rural areas (Fan, 2015). Just because there are access and
availability for high-income households doesn’t necessarily mean they eat healthily.
Other factors such as education and previous practices come into play. Increase
in overweight and obesity could be a result of excessive intake of saturated
fats, calories, and sugar. This can also occur in rural areas, as their access
to healthier food is limited.
In general, the
overall micronutrient deficiencies in China are below the average for a
developing country (Fan, 2014). However, there are some people with such deficiencies
and are mainly based in rural areas. Low-income households cannot readily
access a variety of food, which can lead to micronutrient deficiencies in iron,
vitamin A, zinc, and calcium. Higher rates of anemia can be found in the
elderly, women, poor and rural to urban migrants (Fan, 2015). If people in
China are not getting enough nutrients in their diets, in effect, they are not
prices and quality is another issue for a 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 a sharp
price increase in all types of food (Ghose, 2014). This may have occurred due to rapid diet
change and lower domestic production, in other words, there were increasing
demand and decreasing amount of goods. This also affects higher-income
households, as they are unable to buy as much as they usually do. Sudden
changes in price affect both high and low income households but lower income
households are affected more. If China keeps relying on imports, prices will
increase heighten food insecurity.
As stated, food
security is not just having access, to available food but it is how the food is
utilized and its stability. A major contribution to food security is the disparity
in income, although, there are a few other factors that generally prevent
people from being food secure such nutrition deficiency, price surges, and
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