A woman shows the result after pounding millet on a smallholder farm in Ishiara, Kenya.

Food security Eradicating hunger – ensuring food security

The right to food is a human right. All states and governments have a duty to make this right, enshrined in international law, a reality for their citizens.

Ending hunger worldwide and achieving food security was included as a key goal in the internationally agreed 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015. Yet, according to estimates in the UN World Food Report 2021 (External link), more than 800 million people worldwide suffer from hunger. More than 2.3 billion suffer from “hidden hunger”, the lack of essential nutrients. The numbers are far higher than estimates in previous years, as the Corona pandemic has significantly exacerbated the situation.

Besides the current pandemic, the main causes of food insecurity are poverty, wars and conflicts. The consequences of climate change – extreme weather events like storms, floods and droughts – also contribute. In many countries, the development of rural regions has also been neglected for a long time – even though they play a crucial role in global food production.

Impact of Russia's war against Ukraine on world food supply

Wheat field in northern Mongolia
Logo: Global Alliance for Food Security (GAFS)

The Russian war of aggression against Ukraine has dramatically exacerbated the already tense situation on global agricultural markets. In Ukraine, many fields could not be cultivated in 2022 and deliveries of grain harvested in the previous year are being deliberately prevented by Russia.

The situation is made worse by higher energy costs and fertiliser prices. Russia is one of the world's most important exporters of fertilisers.

This threatens developing countries in particular with famine and political destabilisation. Depending on the duration of the Russian war in Ukraine, the World Food Programme expects the number of people acutely affected by hunger to rise by up to 49 million. The situation is further aggravated by export restrictions.

Germany held the G7 presidency in 2022 and thus had a special responsibility to develop globally coordinated solutions for food security. On the initiative of German Development Minister Svenja Schulze, the G7 development ministers initiated an alliance for global food security in May 2022 to arm the world against the looming hunger crisis.

German activities Realising the right to food

Germany has massively expanded its development policy commitment to food security in recent years. It supports its partner countries closely in improving and securing the nutritional situation of their populations. German development cooperation in this sector also helps to develop rural areas and protect natural resources. Every year, Germany invests around two billion euros from the budget of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) for this purpose.

Through its activities in the core area of “Transformation of agriculture and food systems”, Germany is putting food security at the centre of international cooperation. The aim is to enable all people to enjoy the right to safe, sufficient and balanced food. To achieve this, food systems must become more effective and efficient, and at the same time economically and socially sustainable action must be taken to create prosperity and new jobs for young people and especially for women.

A woman in Togo harvests lettuce. She carries a toddler on her back.

Special initiative Transformation of Agricultural and Food Systems Internal link

The Special Initiative “Transformation of Agricultural and Food Systems” has been helping to transform agricultural and food systems since 2014. As part of this initiative, more than 300 projects are being implemented in countries that are particularly affected by hunger and malnutrition.

A woman farmer in Malawi in front of a solar system that provides electricity for the pump of a drip irrigation system

Sustainable agriculture

Sustainable agriculture must also help to ensure a balanced diet and income for small farming families and support them in adapting to the consequences of climate change. That is why an important area of work for German development cooperation is to promote more sustainable agriculture and food systems that involve both producers and consumers.

Young maize plant in a research laboratory

Agricultural research and innovation

Smallholder farmers in developing countries need innovative techniques, improved plant varieties and knowledge about sustainable agricultural cultivation practices - a task for international public agricultural research, which BMZ supports as part of German development cooperation.

Cultivation of wheat in the greenhouse of the Agricultural Research Institute CIMMYT in Texcoco, Mexico

Green innovation centres

As part of its Special Initiative “Transformation of Agricultural and Food Systems”, the BMZ has established green innovation centres in 16 partner countries of German development cooperation. The aim of the centres is to improve regional food supply, increase the income of smallholder farms and create jobs through innovations in the agricultural and food sector.

Three fishermen with fishing nets in Bangladesh

Sustainable fisheries and fish farming

In its partner countries, the BMZ promotes artisanal fishing and fish farming (aquaculture), the sustainable management of fish stocks and fish farms, sustainable fish consumption and the fight against illegal fishing.

Approaches of German development policy

Helping people help themselves

A Bolivian farmer in a wheat field. The construction of stone walls protects farmland from erosion.

A Bolivian farmer in a wheat field. The construction of stone walls protects farmland from erosion.

A Bolivian farmer in a wheat field. The construction of stone walls protects farmland from erosion.

In most countries affected by hunger and malnutrition, comprehensive reform processes are necessary in the entire food system, for example in governance, the economy, the health sector, social security, trade relations or spatial planning.

External support is not sufficient for these processes: They can only succeed if developing countries take responsibility for them themselves. They need the political will to realise the human right to food, as well as adequate financial, technical and human resources. The guiding principle of German development policy is therefore help towards self-help.

BMZ publications

Cover: Berlin Ministerial Conference "Uniting for Global Food Security" | Conclusions by the Chairs

Berlin Ministerial Conference “Uniting for Global Food Security” on 24 June 2022

Conclusions by the Chairs

File type PDF | Date of status 06/2022 | File size 659 KB, Pages 3 Pages
Cover: BMZ core area strategy "Sustainable Agri-Food Systems"

BMZ Core area strategy: Sustainable Agri-Food Systems

A World without Hunger | BMZ Paper 5

File type PDF | Date of status 12/2021 | File size 584 KB, Pages 29 Pages

As at: 23/06/2022