Food self-sufficiency: Making sense of it, and when it makes sense
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Food self-sufficiency gained increased attention in a number of countries in the wake of the 2007–08 international food crisis, as countries sought to buffer themselves from volatility on world food markets. Food self-sufficiency is often presented in policy circles as the direct opposite of international trade in food, and is widely critiqued by economists as a misguided approach to food security that places political priorities ahead of economic efficiency. This paper takes a closer look at the concept of food self-sufficiency and makes the case that policy choice on this issue is far from a straightforward binary choice between the extremes of relying solely on homegrown food and a fully open trade policy for foodstuffs. It shows that in practice, food self-sufficiency is defined and measured in a number of different ways, and argues that a broader understanding of the concept opens up space for considering food self-sufficiency policy in relative terms, rather than as an either/or policy choice. Conceptualizing food self-sufficiency along a continuum may help to move the debate in a more productive direction, allowing for greater consideration of instances when the pursuit of policies to increase domestic food production may make sense both politically and economically.
Cite this work
Jennifer Clapp (2017). Food self-sufficiency: Making sense of it, and when it makes sense. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/11494
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