Influencing the food security agenda

CIFOR research ensures forests and trees are recognized as key components of the food security landscape.

The world’s population is likely to exceed 9 billion people by 2050, fueling concern that we do not produce enough food to meet demand. In 2012, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimated that 868 million people globally do not consume enough calories. Much food security discourse has focused on increasing and expanding agricultural production to meet this deficiency.

Yet food security is about more than calorie intake. The FAO also estimates that more than 2 billion people suffer from micronutrient deficiency in their diets.

“Having access to tree-based foods is hugely important when you can’t buy food from other sources or when you can’t produce food because your fields have failed.”

Research by CIFOR’s scientists on the nutritional quality of children’s diets in 21 countries in Africa shows that there is a positive relationship between tree cover density and dietary diversity. Fruit and vegetable consumption increases as tree cover density increases, up to a peak at 45 percent tree cover. Ongoing research in five countries in Africa is investigating these connections more closely but clearly, forests make an important contribution to diets and food security.

CIFOR’s research is playing a pivotal role in the debate about integrated approaches to landscape management for food and dietary diversity. Recognizing this, in 2015 the FAO asked CIFOR’s Principal Scientist Terry Sunderland to lead its High Level Panel of Experts on Sustainable Forest Management and Food and Nutritional Security. CIFOR made a major contribution to International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO)’s Global Forests Expert Panel report on Forests and Landscapes for Food Security and Nutrition, and contributes to CGIAR’s participation in the EAT Initiative.

forest lands cleared for agriculture in Africa
people estimated to have micronutrient deficiency
of vitamins A, C and iron came from wild foods in a study in Eastern Usambara, Tanzania