Food Security as a Social Movement in Neo-liberal Times: Envisaging a Role for Social Sciences

By Vanmala Hiranandani.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Food is one of the vital elements of human existence and human health. The right to food is equivalent to the right to life. From production to consumption, food involves many important cultural, social, and economic activities of human societies. Yet, despite advances in science and technology that have modernized food production and distribution, hunger and malnutrition still threaten the health and well-being of millions of people around the world. Estimates suggest that 800 million people in ‘developing’ countries are undernourished; of these 207.6 million reside in India alone. Food security is affected by food availability and affordability, which in turn, is largely influenced by the state of agriculture. The pivotal importance of agriculture in the fight against hunger and poverty lies in the fact that around 2.5 billion people in developing countries live in rural areas and are engaged in agricultural production; most of them are small-scale subsistence farmers. Agriculture employs 70% of the labor force and contributes 34% of the gross domestic product (GDP) in ‘developing’ countries, including India. In recent decades, trade liberalization policies have significantly impacted small farmers and agricultural workers, creating a global farm crisis. Neo-liberal trade regimes in agriculture have sparked renewed interest in food security. With India as a case in point, this paper will review the existing evidence about the impact of agricultural restructuring on food security, examine the rise of farmers’ movements and government responses, and recommend priorities for social science research, policy development and social action.

Keywords: Food Security, Agricultural Restructuring, Trade Liberalization, Farmers’ Movements

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 2, Issue 5, pp.39-48. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 573.590KB).

Dr. Vanmala Hiranandani

Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada

Vanmala Hiranandani is Assistant Professor at the School of Social Work, Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada. She worked for several years in India as a medical social worker and on community-based research projects concerning health promotion, women’s rights, production of educational multi-media for social change, and displacement of marginalized groups from traditional sources of livelihood as a result of Eurocentric development approaches. Her research interests revolve around anti-colonial thought, health consequences of neo-liberal globalization, alternative approaches to development, anti-imperialism struggles, critical race theory, and research that empowers resistance. Her latest research is on the impact of agricultural trade liberalization policies on food security in India and the growth of food security as a global social movement.

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