This study argues that increasing agricultural productivity and strengthening the food system —understood as the entire chain from the production to the consumption of food, as well as the nutrition and jobs it provides — offer solutions to some of the many complex and intertwined challenges facing the region. Reducing the productivity gaps in cereal yields, investing in agriculture research and development, improving food safety measures, and giving special attention to the rural poor, could all greatly contribute to reducing the dependency of the region on food imports and the promotion of a more equitable and balanced economic growth.
This report analyses the causes of food insecurity and malnutrition in the region at both household and national levels and proposes a series of remedial policy interventions. We believe the alternative measures suggested here will lead to greater food security and better nutrition. Importantly, this must be achieved through inclusive and sustainable socio-economic development, despite the limited and often stressed natural resource base.