The breakdown in world food security came about largely because of a system of stockholding which was inadequate to meet an unexpected shortfall in grain supplies in a period of rising demand. The world trading system for grain is dominated by the policies of individual governments with regard to pricing and stocks, and this is likely to continue to be the case in the future. Governments through these policies have a major impact on the allocation of available supplies. Experience has shown that no nation can achieve sustained economic growth and reasonable economic stability in the absence of an assured food supply at reasonable prices.
In the developing countries, inadequate food supplies have in many cases brought overall economic growth to a halt when resources had to be diverted from other development priorities to the import or acquisition of food to maintain the population. In such crises, investment projects have to be abandoned while scarce foreign exchange and external assistances are diverted to short-run survival. The concept of food security embraces both the reduction of risks emanating from unstable production and also provision of mechanisms whereby individual countries can obtain assistance to meet specific problems of food shortages. It includes arrangements for security of supplies in the face of production fluctuation, for price stability, for trade expansion, and for payments facilities. The development of a comprehensive solution to the problem of world food security involves both individual country action on such matters as stockholding, food aid commitments, and trade policies, and international action to coordinate this national action and supplement it, where necessary, by programmes channelled through international agencies. Such a system of food security, if developed, would constitute something in the nature of a charter guaranteeing freedom from famine analogous to the United Nations Charter of Human Rights. The most important elements of a world food security policy are: the establishment of a food information and early warning system; a coordinated system of national stock policies embodied in an International Undertaking on World Food Security; better arrangements for meeting requirements of emergency food supplies; and the reorganization of food aid as a continuing form of assistance.