Together, India, Brazil and South Africa have nearly 1,365 billion inhabitants, or about 20 per cent of the world’s population. Although the three countries have demonstrated the potential for transformative development in the South, their experience has been marked by key challenges such as relatively high levels of poverty, inequality and food insecurity, problems that persist for significant numbers of people. This minilateral group of countries known as IBSA is a crucial pole for increasing South-South learning and has much potential for debate on innovative development policy initiatives.
IBSA functions as a coordinating mechanism among these three multiethnic and multicultural democracies. Its establishment was formalised in 2003 by the Brasilia Declaration, which mentions India, Brazil and South Africa’s democratic credentials, their condition as developing nations, and their capacity for action on a global scale as the main reasons for the three countries to come together. The Declaration gives priority to social inclusion and equity, food security, health, welfare, employment, education, human rights and environmental sustainability. It also stresses the importance of sharing knowledge and experience on the fight against poverty, hunger and diseases.
Since IBSA’s inauguration, there has been growing interest in academic partnership between the three countries, and several joint projects have emerged in various academic areas. The academic forums held in 2006 and 2010 in Brazil, 2007 in South Africa and 2008 in India were important arenas for discussing the IBSA process. These events are expected to foster insights that could contribute to the processes of policymaking in the three countries.
There is a potential to build a network of academics and experts from Brazil, India and South Africa, and food security is among the themes of great interest. This paper seeks to contribute to this process by examining pertinent elements of policy dialogue.
As regards food security, each of these countries has developed conceptions and orientations that guide their policy agendas. They include distinctive treatments of several multi-dimensional strategies, multi-stakeholder arrangements and rights-based approaches. They underpin the implementation of a diverse range of permanent initiatives to tackle food insecurity, illustrated by support for land access, agricultural inputs, extension services, facilitated markets and other issues in the area of food availability. Programmes dealing with food access for vulnerable groups take the form of initiatives such as school meals, public procurement for subsidised food sales or free distribution, public works and cash transfers.
Attention to proper food utilisation and non-food determinants, such as through appropriate water facilities, food education, food supplements, and adequacy of health and nutrition services, are also considered. Within this multitude of public approaches, the three countries have significant similarities and differences that can be investigated, with a view to enriching the policy and programming debates.
In this context, the International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth presents a comparative study of the food-security policy agendas in India, Brazil and South Africa. The aim of this paper is to identify and examine critical issues and good practices in order to reveal relevant points for knowledge sharing among the three countries. Acknowledging that the national situations considered here are marked by specificities and complexities, this paper does not aim to analyse them fully or to deepen each aspect of the policy and programming contexts. Rather, it seeks to point out some key areas that could be taken into consideration in possible exchanges of knowledge on public food-security interventions among the IBSA members.
Following this introduction, Section 2 presents the conceptual framework on food security that guides this study, and offers succinct data on the three countries based on leading international measures. Section 3 offers a general presentation of the food-security policy agendas, highlighting their broad comparative elements. It explores the leading onceptions, orientations and measurements used.
Section 4 deals with the rights-based approach to food security, focusing on the current legal apparatus and accountability mechanisms. Section 5 examines how different stakeholders, particularly civil-society organisations and various levels of government, take part in public interventions. Section 6 considers food production, highlighting two particular issues: how the promotion of smallscale farming is taken into account in food-security policy, and how environmental matters are considered in public support for food production.
Section 7 explores major public initiatives on access to food, and draws attention to some relevant experiences of cash transfers, in-kind transfers and public works. Section 8 assesses key challenges and achievements relating to food security in the three countries. Section 9 points out the main issues that could be explored in further policy dialogue. Finally, a summary table of the major themes considered throughout the text is provided in the Annex.
* The authors would like to acknowledge the very useful peer review comments received from Claudia Schmitt of the Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRRJ), Ramesh Chand of the National Centre for Agricultural Economics and Policy Research (NCAP) in New Delhi, and Leisa Perch of the International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth (IPC-IG). This paper also considered important inputs provided by country reports on South Africa, Brazil and India prepared respectively by Josee Koch, Danuta Chmielewska and Darana Souza, and Pitabasa Sahoo.
* PUBLIC SUPPORT TO FOOD SECURITY IN INDIA, BRAZIL AND SOUTH AFRICA: ELEMENTS FOR A POLICY DIALOGUE, by Darana Souza and Danuta Chmielewska. The 53 page report can be accessed here.