Science Meets Reality: Economic Efficiency, Markets, Institutions and Food Security

Bernardo Reynolds Pacheco de Carvalho


Food still is, and will continue to be, a basic issue at every day decision process in human behaviour. Food consumption has been a problematic issue in human history and today is also recognized as a basic pillar for human health and welfare/quality of life. From a global problem up to the middle of the eighties, right now food security is mainly a local issue (however a macro-level approach continued to be necessary for long run perspective and food safety concerns in trade and commercialization). Food and nutritional concerns today still are unforgetable issues on a local base perspective in many regions: the most common problems are related to the access and consumption to achieve the minimum nutritional requirements, but also other dimensions such as production, transformation, distribution and logistical aspects of the “food equation”, mainly in less developed countries, are crucial aspects to be taken into consideration.
Economic effciency from a production perspective in the food sector, measured in terms of output per unit of input (technical and technological innovation) achieved one of the best performances in terms of development in the last 30 years globally and in most regions in the world (few exceptions, like Sub-Sahara countries and some others). The same can not be refered in regard to markets and institutional innovations. In fact, looking at institutions including markets and governments, it is necessary to explore and identify the several observed failures (institutional and governance failures: markets, governmental and others) were science can make a contribution. This is the main purpose of the current research, which is starting based on observed problems and applied solutions with good results in many situations, but also pointing out many other situations were solutions are needed based on the old instruments, but also based on innovative procedures. The method followed explores the basic theoretical approach in production theory and in consumption micro-economic concepts, allowing the introduction of some new proposals in regard to efficiency measures. Adding to those aspects some new questions and models are discussed in regard to the “institutional/organizational economics” in the actual world, providing support for improvement measures (and policy suggestions).
The Brasilien case is explored in more detail (the “Fome Zero Program”), but also some African examples are used to illustrate that many solutions will have to rely on technological changes, but also on institutional innovations.


Food security; Economic efficiency; Technological and Institutional Changes

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ISSN 1869-6945


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