Course Lectures

A Social Entrepreneurship Approach to University-level Training

This course focuses on food policy in developing countries with an emphasis on the role of government in global, national and local food systems. It uses a social entrepreneurship approach and involves participatory training based on classroom presentations and discussions of cases of real issues facing policy-makers. The course was developed for upper- level undergraduate or graduate students in a variety of disciplines, such as nutrition, economics and agronomy, who have a basic understanding of economics.

The course consists of a sequence of lectures and a set of over 60 real life case studies, which are divided by sub-topics and support specific lectures. Following the brief introduction, the first two lectures set the stage for the course and the remaining five lectures relate to specific aspects of the food system. Below are links to each lecture.

This is a brief, 4-minute introduction to the course entitled "Food Policy for Developing Countries." In his introduction, Professor Per Pinstrup-Andersen describes the purpose and structure of the course, the target audience, and the topics that will be covered.
The global food system consists of many local and national food systems that for the most part are linked through trade and/or information sharing. For the purpose of policy analysis it is useful to think of the food system as a dynamic behavioral system within which various stakeholder groups, who influence the system, can be influenced by policy interventions. The global food system is affected by several driving forces, including globalization, technological change, and changes in the relative competitive power of the stakeholder groups.
Policy is defined as a plan of collective action. Governments can influence the food systems through regulations, incentives or knowledge creation and dissemination. Government interventions may be needed to correct market failures, including the production of public good and compensation for externalities. Priorities for food systems vary over time and across countries but would usually include the improvement of the well-being of societies or specific stakeholder groups such as the poor and malnourished, producers or consumers. Most governments are likely to place their legitimacy over other goals.
This lecture relates to the topics covered in three of the Case Study sections: Human Health and Nutrition Policies, Food Security, Consumption, and Demand Policies, and Poverty Alleviation Policies.
Improving human health and nutrition is a key goal of food systems. This lecture and the related cases describe the interactions between the food systems and human health and nutrition and illustrate how government action may improve health and nutrition through a portfolio of direct interventions such as food fortification, biofortification, price policies, educational campaigns, food for education, and a variety of other government policies to improve health, reduce hunger and malnutrition, and decrease the prevalence of overweight and obesity.
Food security is defined as access to sufficient food to meet the energy and nutrient requirements for a healthy and productive life. The majority of food-insecure people live in rural areas of developing countries. Their food security is heavily influenced by poverty, access to resources, and fluctuations in weather patterns and markets. Household and individual food security is also influenced by household behavior in general and intrahousehold allocations in particular, which in turn, are influenced by knowledge, promotion, and advertising. The lecture explains how government policies can reduce food insecurity caused by rural poverty and fluctuations in weather patterns and markets to which the rural poor are exposed, as well as change household allocative behavior and regulate external influences such as food advertising by retailers and wholesalers.
The lecture also addresses the interaction between income distribution, poverty, food security, and nutrition and illustrates how government action can influence all of these through conditional transfers programs, policies to facilitate migration out of agriculture, and a series of other policies to influence income distribution and poverty.
This lecture concerns topics covered in these Case Study sections: Food Production and Supply Policies and Natural Resource Management Policies
This lecture and related cases present and discuss various policy options to assist farmers to expand production, increase incomes, improve food security, and manage production and market risks. Emphasis is on policies that mitigate the negative effects of potential or actual famines, droughts, and a series of other threats facing small farmers and pastoralists. The cases also discuss land distribution policies, research and technology policies, and policies that facilitate the production of biofuel without negative effects on food security.
The interaction between natural resource management and food production and the role of government are illustrated in the lectures. The related cases present policy options for the government and civil society to fight soil degradation along with an illustration of how government policy can best be used to deal with the very complex but common situation in which there are strong interactions between human and environmental health in the context of expanded food production. Several policy options for the allocation of scarce water supplies are also presented.
This lecture illustrates the role of food markets and food marketing in the economy and discuss the links between farmers and markets. The cases discuss policies designed to help integrate small farmers into the market economy, with emphasis on the facilitation of contract farming, collective bargaining, farmer associations, food price stabilization, and the successful development of high-value agriculture on small farms. They also discuss the increasing concentration of food retailers and wholesalers, the role of government, and the importance of infrastructure to facilitate market-based poverty reduction.
This lecture concerns topics covered in these Case Study sections: Governance, Institutions and Macroeconomic Policies and Trade and Globalization Policies
While the term "food policy" is often interpreted to mean sectorial, micro, or meso policies, food systems are strongly influenced by macroeconomic policies, as discussed in this lecture. Institutions enter into food systems in a variety of ways at local, national, and international levels, and institutional innovation is a critical element of effective policy design and implementation. The related cases discuss these issues and the related role of governments, along with the impact of instability and armed conflict on food security and lessons for government action.
The impact of globalization on food systems is of a very complex nature. This lecture and the related cases address the impact of trade and agricultural policies in both high- and low-income countries as well as the impact of other elements of globalization such as the international expansion and concentration of the private food sector. The impact of trade and domestic agricultural policies in OECD countries on low-income countries and low-income people are discussed along with available policy options for alleviating these negative consequences, and the effect of tariff escalation and non-tariff trade barriers.
This lecture addresses the most important ethical issues related to the food system, including the major ethical standards and their relevance for the food system and the pros and cons of using a social welfare function to guide food policies and programs. The ethics associated with policy action and failure to take action is analyzed and socially sensitive trade-offs are discussed. The lecture addresses questions such as: Is the right to freedom from hunger, as practiced in most countries, really a right or merely a privilege and is the fight against hunger and malnutrition a moral imperative or an enlightened self-interest for societies?