Undertaking activities which promote food security and, where appropriate, food self-sufficiency within the context of sustainable agriculture; reviewing agricultural policy, planning and integrating programmes in the light of the multifunctional aspect of agriculture, particularly with regard to food security and sustainable development.
FAO (1996a) defines food security as "...a situation in which all households have both physical and economic access to adequate food for all members, and where households are not at risk of losing such access". Three dimensions are implicit in this definition: availability, stability and access. Adequate food availability means that, on average, sufficient food supplies should be available to meet consumption needs. Stability refers to minimizing the probability that, in difficult years or seasons, food consumption might fall below consumption requirements. Access draws attention to the fact that, even with bountiful supplies, many people still go hungry because they do not have the resources to produce or purchase the food they need. In addition, if food needs are met through exploitation of non-renewable natural resources or degradation of the environment, there is no guarantee of food security in the long term.
The concept of food security involves a number of issues, such as population growth, resource availability (e.g. land, minerals and capital), infrastructure (e.g. transport), institutions (e.g. land-tenure, agricultural support systems, marketing systems, social relationships, legal systems) and international trade (FAO 1994). Many argue that those, indeed, are the major factors inhibiting food security, and that the actual agricultural system is only of secondary importance in solving the problems of food security. When focusing on the agricultural system, therefore, the question is not whether a particular farm management system can secure food, but whether certain systems are more appropriate for moving towards a situation of food security.
This strategy features in the framework of Agenda 21 as formulated at UNCED (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), now coordinated by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development and implemented through national and local authorities.