Food Remittances and Food Security: A Review

Migration and Development. 2018, 7(2): 180-200.

The global attention paid to cash remittances over the past decade has resulted in an extremely solid evidence base on international, regional and national level remitting behaviour and impacts. Little attention, however, has been paid to food remitting and its development contribution, including to the welfare and food security of sending and receiving migrant households. A review of the current state of knowledge about food remitting found considerable knowledge gaps in our understanding of the volume, driver and impacts of this phenomenon. In this paper, food remittance data from five multi-country household surveys and case study evidence are marshalled in order to demonstrate that food remitting is an important accompaniment to migration which demands much greater research attention. The paper uses the existing data to show that there is considerable spatial variability in the amounts, frequency and types of foodstuffs that flow to and from migrant origin and destination areas within countries and across borders. Both poor and better-off households in many rural areas remit food, a practice that enhances urban food security. Rural–rural, urban–urban and urban–rural food remitting are also growing in significance. Research on the relationship between remittances and development can no longer afford to ignore this neglected but extremely important form of remitting.

Jonathan Crush, Mary Caesar