Food Security is one of the most important components of the national security.
Its importance is emphasized by bothnumerous internationaland Armenianlegal acts, including:
– Human Rights Declaration,
– “UN Sustainable Development Goals,
– The RA Law on“Ensuring Food Security”,
– “The National Security Strategyof RA”,
– Food Security Concept of RA,
-The Strategy forSustainable Agricultural and Rural Development for 2010-2020.
In order to implement a coordinated food security policy the RA President approved“The Food Security Concept of the Republic of Armenia” which is to ensure the physical and economic access to food that meets health standards of all groups of the population as well as to create preconditions to resist unfavourable changes of local and foreign markets and negative effects of potential emergency situations.
The main objectives of the Food Security Concept of RA are:
1. Efficient use of economic potential of the agro-food system, establishment and sustainable development of competitive agro-food system,
2. Ensuring the necessary level of food self-sufficiency,
3. Improvement of the food safety and quality assurance system,
4. Increasing the efficiency of implementation of activities related to physical and economic access to food,
5. Provision of enough food to the population,
6. Increasing the efficiency of food resources through proportional regional development
7. Preventing food crisis during states of emergency and war,
8. Balanced use of natural resources and prevention of negative impact on the environment,
9. Ensuring reliable social protection and protection of socially vulnerable groups of the populationEnsuring comprehensive implementation of projects arising from the Concept
Availability and access
According to the national food balance data the level of food self-sufficiency for the last 5 year makes up 60 %.
In Armenia in 2008-2013 a high level of self-sufficiency was recorded for potato, vegetable crops, fruits and berries, grape, small cattle meat, eggs, higher than average level for milk, dairy and cattle meat, however the self-sufficiency rate remains low for wheat, corn, leguminous plants, poultry and pork.
In 2015 the export of fresh crop products according to the operative data made up 76.7 thousand tonnes which exceeds 2014 for around 65%. According to the National Statistical Service of Armenia in 2014 the volume of vegetable and animal productsmade up 426.5 million USD and390.3 million USD in 2015. For the same period of time, the volume of import decreased by 22.2% making up accordingly 810.3 and 663.3 million USD.
The proportion of income spent on food reaches 64% in Armenia. Due to the financial crisis in Armenia, 78% of the population changed their diets to more affordable food and about two thirds reduced the amount that they consume.
Domestic food price volatility is high. In Armenia this seems to reflect the extremely volatile local production, which seems to, in turn, relate to the weather.
The key issue for food dependence seems to be whether it is sustainable through foreign inflows. It is hard to know whether this measure is met in the region, but given Armenia’s high remittance rate, and potential for high value agricultural exports, the picture need not be as bleak as it first appears. Beyond that, the aspiration of food independence in production is really more a political goal than a security one.
High food prices and over-dependence on starch have a heavy toll on human health, as 21% of children in Armenia are physically underdeveloped (or ‘stunted’). This shows that the major issues in Armenia is no longer undernourishment, but rather malnourishment. The poorest quintile of population still struggles for adequate food access, but the population as a whole tends to lack the right food, leading to a diet with low nutritional diversity.
In Armenia cardiovascular diseases is the leading cause of death from non-communicable diseases. Also, 56% of the population in Armenia is considered overweight or obese, while diabetes is linked to the 6% of all deaths in Armenia (2002).
In 2014 60.2% of the Armenian population consumes less than 2100 kcal per day (against national standard of 2412 kcal / day). 15% of the population consumes bread and potato which makes up 70% of their food ration.Moreover for the households with three and more children aged between 0 and 14, 86.6% consumes less than 2100 kcal/day and 29.5% eats mostly bread and potato (70% of their food ration).
Within the framework of the project a National Working Group within the Ministry of Agriculture was formed to develop a new Strategy for Sustainable Agricultural and Rural Development (SSAD) in Armenia for 2016-2025 involving the Agricultural Alliance, policymakers, food security experts and other relevant actors.
In order to enhance local food production and consumption, OXFAM has actively been engaged in private sector, particularly national agri. processors to promote effective food value chains.
With a view to ensure participatory process of SSAD development, OXFAM initiated provincial level working groups involving provincial and local authorities, province level banks, MFIs, NGOs, processors as well as farmers and farmer cooperatives to identify issues and challenges on agricultural development and food security at local and provincial levels to be considered in national policies and strategies. As a result, a draft of gender sensitive SSAD 2016-2025 has been developed which is expected to be approved by the Government later in 2016.
Project also aims to increase the public awareness on the healthy nutrition and healthy diet, which are the major challenges in Armenia leading to malnutrition and obesity especially among the children. For that Oxfam facilitated the MoU to be signed between the Ministry of Healthcare of Armenia and Mother and Child Health Alliance, to facilitate the participatory monitoring of nutrition in schools.