Issue

Food

The United Nations defines food security as "all people at all times hav[ing] both physical and economic access to the basic food they need." For approximately 2 billion people throughout the world, this security is anything but guaranteed. Food security is a complicated issue that is susceptible to many forces.

Insecurity results from climate change, urban development, population growth, and oil price shifts that are interconnected and rarely confined by borders. It's an issue of global importance, and explored in-depth in the articles, videos and comments you'll find here.

In Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, a legacy of corrupt governance and an economy based primarily on oil exports has left the agriculture sector significantly weakened and millions of Nigerians hungry. And as poorer neighboring countries export more food to Nigeria in exchange for petrodollars, people there also go hungry. In 2005, thousands of children in neighboring Niger died of malnutrition, not because the country had had a particularly bad harvest, but because there was a food shortage in Nigeria, and people in Niger could not afford the ensuing higher prices.

A different threat is set to face the continent's second biggest crop: wheat. In 1999, 50 years since the last outbreak, a new and virulent strain of stem rust attacked Ugandan crops. Its spores then traveled to Ethiopia and Kenya before appearing in Iran last year. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has since warned six other countries in Central and South Asia to watch for signs of the new strain while scientists in the U.S. are urgently working to find a resistant wheat variety. In India alone, more than 50 million small-scale farmers are at risk because they rely on wheat for their food and income.

In Tajikistan, the global financial crisis is forcing thousands of newly unemployed Tajiks to return from Russia. In a country already straining to accommodate Tajik refugees from Afghanistan, the government's chronic mismanagement has amplified the power and food shortages that permeate the countryside.

In Guatemala, income inequality is among the worst in the world, with indigenous communities at a particular disadvantage. In some regions, an estimated 75 percent of the children from infants to the ages of 6 and 7 are chronically malnourished. It is a startling example of food scarcity in a country a mere four-hour flight away from the U.S.

Asia faced its own food crisis as the price of rice doubled last summer. Some hunger experts are seeking out large-scale responses, including stepping up commercial agricultural techniques by introducing genetically modified rice and related products into the region. Other more localized efforts by universities and organizations are providing training in sustainable techniques for traditional farming families and minority ethnic groups.

Pulitzer Center grantees explore the connected causes and effects of food insecurity including efforts to secure the physical and economic access to food in countries most in need.

Food was produced by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting in partnership with the Project for Under-Told Stories and Saint Mary's University.

Food

The Soybean Wars: A Radio Documentary

Soybeans, rows and rows of soybeans all around. In western Paraguay the fields that were once thick rain forests are now soybean plantations. They stretch far into the distance swaying hypnotically back and forth in the wind. This ocean of soy, though, is dotted with small islands — houses, actually, that belong to the subsistence campensinos who once eked out a living farming an array of crops like sugar, cotton, wheat, and maize.

Soy Bean Gold Rush

Paraguay is the world's fastest growing producer of soy beans. But the boom has been bad for native peasants. They lived for years on forestland that belonged to no one — logging and growing food for their families.

About ten years ago, the government either gave away or illegally sold the land to political friends in the soybean business. The soy farmers moved in, pushing the peasants out. It's a tense situation, with peasants squatting next to the soy plantations and hoping the next presidential election will bring them some relief.

Pandora's Box of Ills

As the world's hunger for meat increases because of expanding middle classes and changing tastes, feeding the animals to feed that hunger is having a significant impact on our planet's agriculture - nowhere more so than Latin America where forests are giving way to soybean empires.

Paraguay is the world's fastest growing soy producer; its eastern region - 2 ½ million hectares of it - is devoted to the crop that has brought wealth and development to one of the poorest countries in South American.

Soy Provides Opportunity, Challenges for Paraguay

The global production of soybeans is on the rise, thanks to increasing demand. The fastest growing soy producer in the world is Paraguay, the landlocked country in South America still recovering from years of dictatorship and corruption.

Politics of Change in Paraguay

Paraguay has been run by one political party for the past half century. But former Catholic bishop Fernando Lugo is hoping to challenge that. Reporter Charles Lane has the story.

Bishop Continues Campaign as Vatican, Paraguay Watch

Bishop Fernando Lugo gathered his flock on a cold Saturday morning, and they came -- more than 600 mostly poor peasants -- to the rural city of Horqueta. Unlike many rallies in this impoverished country, it didn't take threats or bribes of food and alcohol to get them there.

In a country steeped in corruption and political puppeteering, they traveled as far as 50 miles to hear the "Bishop of the Poor" speak.

After a notice went out on the radio, entire towns packed themselves on the backs of flatbed trucks to make the frigid journey.