Global hunger tied to insecure and inadequate access to land | Land Portal

Land Portal Foundation and International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) launch thematic portfolio on Land & Food Security

Approximately 40 percent of the world’s land is used for crop production and pasture, but 800 million people remain food insecure and as many as 2 billion are malnourished. In the coming years, ensuring the world’s poor and vulnerable have access to and control over land will be critical to prevent devastating food shortages and starvation.

Most of the world depends on smallholder farming for survival. An estimated 475 million smallholder farmers produce an 80 percent of food in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. But, for many farmers, access to land remains increasingly scarce; roughly 84 percent of the world’s farms are smaller than 2 hectares. In response to hikes in food prices, companies acquired millions of hectares[1] of agricultural land to maintain long-term food supplies. The Global Hunger Index[2] indicated that the majority of these land grabs occurred in countries where hunger levels are “alarming" or “serious” and property rights to land are limited or contested. As population growth and climate change continue to put pressure on land and food supplies, addressing land grabs and other threats to smallholders will be essential to fill the stomachs of the world’s poor and vulnerable.

Empowering women through more secure land rights and greater control over household decision-making not only boosts production of food crops but also leads to improved nutrition for families. Women make up an estimated 43 percent of the agricultural labor force in developing countries, but consistently have less access and secure rights to land and resources. Social, cultural, and legal biases against women’s ownership of land make control over property one of the greatest inequalities between men and women. Consequently, women are commonly considered to be more vulnerable to food insecurity, expropriation, and climate change and shocks.

Food insecurity will likely increase as a consequence of climate change and widespread resource degradation. A significant amount of arable land has already been lost to desertification, salinization and soil erosion related to unsustainable land management, as well as to urbanization and other human uses. Climate change will add to the loss of productive regions through drought, rising temperatures, and changes in the distribution of pests and diseases. Crop yields are expected to decrease by 5 to 7 percent globally by 2050, and entire food systems may be at risk.

To increase knowledge and awareness of these important issues, the Land Portal Foundation, together with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), is publishing a Thematic Portfolio on Land & Food Security, which puts the spotlight on key issues, data and information from diverse information sources. This Portfolio provides access to a wide range of food security indicators and statistics from major global databases, including Global Hunger Index (GHI), which ranks countries based on undernourishment, child stunting and wasting, and child mortality. Relevant news, blogs, debates and events are also published on the Land & Food Security Portfolio, providing users with an up-to-date snapshot of the current issues and trends. The Portfolio features 36 profiles of organizations working on these issues, as well as an impressive repository of 1697 publications focused on land and food security.

The Portfolio also showcases a new narrative on Land & Food Security written by Pamela Stedman-Edwards, Senior Editor from IFPRI. This narrative provides a global overview of land and food security issues, and includes a detailed discussion of the relationship between food security and smallholder farmers, women's land rights, climate change and resource degradation. The narrative also provides a set of national examples, which illustrates how land and food security concerns are dealt with at the country level.

Pamela Stedman-Edwards, Senior Editor at IFPRI, said “The Land Portal is an excellent source of data and information on a wide range of land-related issues that affect the poor and vulnerable. IFPRI welcomes its contribution to good land governance—providing access to this knowledge is critical to improving food security and nutrition, and reducing poverty around the world.”

According to Laura Meggiolaro, Coordinator of the Land Portal Foundation, “Land tenure for smallholder farmers and women continues to be a major issue undermining the food security of women and smallholder farmers throughout the developing world. This Portfolio on Land & Food Security makes information on these issues more accessible than ever before. We hope this Portfolio will help improve decision making for the benefit of those most vulnerable.”

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The Land Portal Foundation is working for a world of improved land governance that benefits those with the most insecure land rights and the greatest vulnerability to landlessness. We are creating the leading online resource for information, data and knowledge-exchange on land governance issues. By working with partners we are building a better information ecosystem that will support all stakeholders to engage in more informed and inclusive land governance research, debate, advocacy and policy making.


The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) advances evidence-based policy solutions to sustainably reduce poverty and end hunger and malnutrition in developing counties.

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