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Cereal production, undernourishment, and food insecurity in South Asia

Mazhar Mughal () and Charlotte Fontan Sers ()

Review of Development Economics, 2020, vol. 24, issue 2, 524-545

Abstract: South Asia remains one of the major strongholds of hunger in the world, despite the fact that, following the Green Revolution, cereal production in the countries of this region tripled during the second half of the 20th century. This study examines the role played by this increase in cereal production in improving the region’s nutrition and food security situation. We study the association between the different aspects of food security and cereal production in South Asia that have prevailed over the past 25 years. We find a beneficial role of the production and yield of cereals in lowering the extent of undernourishment. A 1% increase in cereal production and yield is associated with up to 0.84% decrease in the prevalence of undernourishment. The impact is significant over a period of 3 years. The positive effect is particularly evident in the case of rice and maize production. An improvement is seen in the aspects of availability, stability, and utilization of food security but not in the aspect of access. These findings are robust to alternative specifications and techniques. The results explain, in part, the means by which South Asian nations have managed to stall relative increases in extreme hunger and food insecurity.

Date: 2020
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