Food Security has
increasingly become an issue in China as it has a population of over 1.4
billion people today. Pinstrup-Andersen
(2009), states that, the World Food Summit in 1996 agreed; 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. It should be
noted, not everyone in china is food secure, is this mainly because of Income
inequality? This essay will mainly focus on accessibility, availability,
utilisation and stability.
China has a
transitioning economy, in other words its economy is growing rapidly which
causes an urban-rural income gap. Income inequality is caused by a number of
things but the major cause is the urban-rural gap. The urban-rural ratio
increased by 0.9 between 1999 and 2009 before declining by 0.4 in 2013 (Zhou
& Song, 2016). This means that many residents are moving to urban areas
despite the policies and constraints that the government put in place to close
the gap. The rural urban migrants increased by approximately 245 million people
between 1978 and 2014. In general, urban areas provide a better quality of life,
as there is access to education, healthcare as well as higher paying jobs.
People living in urban area have better access to a variety of good quality,
nutritious food, giving them the opportunity to be more food secure than in
According to 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, allowing china to be more
reliant on international trade. Farmland converted to urban cities such as; coastal
provinces of southeast china Jiangsu and Guangdong (Chen, 2007) leads to a
decreasing production of grains. Once
land is converted, it is virtually impossible to change it back to its original
state, as there have been physical and biotic alterations. Additionally, human
activity in urban areas produces a lot of waste from industrial and other
sources will affect soil leading to the decrease in output and quality of
income increases, people’s quality of food and taste change to more of a
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). To explain, low-income
household can’t afford better quality food so they settle for cheaper food
products. In particular, low-income households 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 are 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. Having said that, 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 less people to be food
secure. To prevent this, the Chinese government
are proactively trying to use sustainable intensification techniques, develop better
market strategies and high level environmental policies (Ghose, 2014) to make
China more self sufficient.
earlier, high-income households has a more diverse diet but this doesn’t
necessarily mean they are getting all the nutrients to live a healthy life.
Urban areas experience higher rate of overweight and obesity but this is also
increasing in rural areas (Fan, 2015). Just because there is access and
availability for high-income households doesn’t necessarily mean that they eat
healthy, 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 average for a developing
country (Fan, 2014). But there are still some people with such deficiencies and
are mainly found 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 anaemia 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, this means they are not food secure.
prices 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 price
increase in all types of food (Ghose, 2014). This may have occurred due rapid diet change
and lower domestic production, in other words there was 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 affects
both high and low income households but lower income households are affected
more. If China keeps relying on imports, prices will increase worsening food
For the most part,
low-income households are less food secure than high-income households.
However, there are a few other factors that generally prevent people from being
food secure such nutrition deficiency, price surges and educational background.
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