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Report, 2013

Food security in Amazonia

Ortiz Rios, Rodomiro Octavio; Nowak, A.; Lavado, A.; Parker, L.


The Amazon is the world’s largest tropical rainforest, providing a wide array of ecosystem services that support human life and more than 2000 species of plants with nutritional and medicinal value. While the basin is among the least populated dense forests on Earth, it hosts around 39 million people and possesses an invaluable cultural richness: over 420 different indigenous groups who speak around 86 distinct languages (UNEP et al., 2009). However, despite this natural wealth, Amazonia’s ecosystems are continuously threatened by human interventions and changes in climate, severely impacting the food security of their population. This report provides an overview of Amazonia's food security and the associated threats in the region, such as land use change and climate change and variability. The aim of this research effort is twofold: first, it attempts to identify those regions and populations in the Amazon basin that need more attention when it comes to hunger alleviation and improvements in nutrition, given the food security status. Second, based on a thorough analysis of natural and man-driven threats to ecosystem service provision and how these are linked to food production, delivery and access in the region, to discuss various policy pathways that could guarantee social, economic and environmental sustainability in the Amazon. The study focuses on five countries that share territory in the Amazon basin, namely Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. It is based on literature review of current knowledge on the impacts of land use change and climate change on ecosystem services, linkages between ecosystem services and/or threats and food security, as well as on best-practices experiences to sustainably manage ecosystems and agricultural systems in the region. Data for the state of food security has been collected from national and United Nations’ statistics database. However, it is worthwhile mentioning that in large parts, this type of data has been inconsistent, not updated and not disaggregated per Department. Furthermore, we used Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in order to estimate projected changes in temperature and precipitation in the Amazon basin, as well as to collect data on vegetation cover change (e.g. deforestation), by means of satellite imagery analysis. Section 2 begins with a brief overview of the definition of food security and some of the most commonly used indicators to measure it. Section 3 is dedicated to the methodology used for this study, including a discussion of the challenges related to data collection. Section 4 is dedicated to the analysis of linkages between ecosystem services and food security, both in general and in particular - for the Amazon region. In Section 5 we present an overview of agricultural production in the basin, attempting to link it with the state of food security for the Amazonian people. Section 6 expands the discussion on factors that affect the provision of ecosystem services and thus drive food insecurity, such as land use change and climate change and variability. In Section 7 we discuss in brief the different populations that are affected by these threats, while the last Section summarizes the findings and presents a variety of policy options that can minimize trade-offs between agricultural production, environmental sustainability and social development, based on suggestions identified in the literature. Short case studies or concrete examples from the region are provided throughout the entire report, in order to illustrate threats to food security, impacts of previous extreme climate events or sustainable options for producing food locally and achieving food security.

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Publisher: Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical – Global Canopy Foundation