BY: Summer Allen

This week IFPRI launched a new Spanish-language web portal that focuses on food and nutrition security in Central America, the Food Security Portal for Central America and the Caribbean (CAC-FSP). The objective of the portal is to provide a set of indicators on food and nutrition security and early warning mechanisms as well as opportunities for dialogue among policymakers, researchers, the private sector and others seeking to increase the resilience of the world’s poor to possible food-related crises, including price and climate shocks.

“Despite the increase in global food supply and the increasing use of agricultural technology in key food-exporting countries, today more than ever before policy makers in food net importing countries (like most countries in Central America) are confronted by increasingly complex challenges to food and nutrition security,” said Maximo Torero, director of the Markets, Trade and Institutions Division at IFPRI.

The portal is designed to pool data and evidence-based information on the different dimensions of food and nutrition security in structured and timely ways to ensure data quality, timeliness, and relevance to the food and nutrition security policies in the region. It also seeks to be a center of dialogue between the different actors involved in food and nutrition security policies to help inform the design of future policies.

One of the feature stories on the portal highlights a geo-spatial tool developed to identify the gaps in public investments needed to reduce poverty, inequality and malnutrition in rural areas of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras using geographic targeting and the prioritization of these investments. This tool demonstrated, for example, that areas of Honduras with low levels of agricultural potential and low efficiency had the highest levels of child migration to the U.S.

“This is just one illustration of how rigorous methodology and appropriate data can help governments focus and prioritize public investments given tight budgets,” said Dr. Torero.

The relationship between poverty, inequality, and malnutrition in these areas and child migration from Central American countries will also be explored in a virtual dialogue hosted on the site 26-29 May. The dialogue will feature both a live panel discussion with eight experts in the field of food and nutrition security as well as an open online discussion forum.

“Food and nutrition security is not only a problem of one sector (e.g., agriculture, public health, or economics), it is a multi-sectorial and multi stakeholder problem, and we need multi-sectorial policies with the participation of all stakeholders-- private, public and civil society,” said Dr. Torero.

The CAC-FSP has the goal of supporting the action plans and priorities identified in the international workshop "Advancing the Agenda of the Food and Nutrition Security in the Countries of Central America." This is a joint effort of the Central American Integration System (SICA), the Central American Agricultural Council (CAC), the Secretariat of Central American Economic Integration (SIECA), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

Summer Allen is a Research Coordinator in the Markets, Trade and Institutions Division at IFPRI.

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