AbstractBrazil, a country with a population of more than 170 million, has embarked on a path to eradicate hunger and poverty. President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (commonly known as "Lula") declared as his goal to cut the number of hungry people to zero during his presidency. Poverty and hunger afflict a large proportion of the population in part because of highly skewed income distribution. The poorest income quintile (20 percent of the population) owned 2.2 percent of the national income while the richest quintile owned about two-thirds in 1998. Using USDA/ERS food security models, we measure food availability and access, calculate the number of hungry people, and estimate income growth required to eradicate food insecurity. According to the ERS food security assessment (FSA) model, between 20 and 40 percent of Brazil's population-roughly 50 million people-do not have sufficient incomes to purchase the amount of food necessary to fulfill nutritional requirements. However, by 2007, increases in food production and GDP are projected to raise food availability by 13 percent. This will help decrease the share of hungry people to between 15 and 20 percent of the population. Basic nutritional adequacy is considered in another method used by ERS to estimate food security. This approach employs a food purchasing power threshold (FPPT) to account for prices of food items and balanced coverage of main food groups. This approach measures food insecurity by calculating the cost of a healthy food basket and the cost of other basic necessities. This FPPT can then be compared to income. Food security results from this approach are similar to those from the FSA model. Both models indicate that income growth required to raise consumption in the vulnerable income groups and eradicate hunger far surpass historical growth rates. Therefore, targeted government programs seem to be a promising but costly option to meet the zero-hunger goal. Lula's program is a mix of cash transfers and investment (e.g., education). While the link between improvements in education and poverty reduction is clear, the road to success is likely to take more than the 4 years envisioned by President Lula.
Food Security and Poverty,