Research on Food Security and Its Influencing Factors Based on Cognition of Urban Household: A Case Study of Nanjing City

Master Thesis, Nanjing University

In recent years, the topic of farmland loss and food safety in China attracted more and more attention in policy. Continuous attention has been paid to food security at the national level, while it’s urgent and necessary to analyze the problem of food security from household or individual level. At the same time, as the meaning of food security enlarged and the dietary transition in urban residents, the unilateral and single evaluation index has many limitations for current research. Although domestic scholars have obtained many research findings such as food security in macro national level and grain security, we still know litter about some basic questions both in theory and practice, such as, what is the meaning of food security at the urban household level? How to measure the degree of food security? How to distinguish the influencing factors?

We carried out the study by four steps. Firstly, based on the analysis of current research, the study built a model based on cognition of urban household to measure food security which include sufficiency, nutrition and safety these three aspects. Secondly, by using the data got from 1075 questionnaires of sample households, the study measured the degree of food security of urban households in Nanjing, and explored the spatial distribution and variation pattern. Thirdly, to reveal the influencing factors of food security of urban household in Nanjing, the study selected two facets which contained individual and county to build multiple regression model. As to the independent variables of individual, personal character, economic character, job, education, and proximity of food access were applied in model. And some variables that represent social and economic level were applied in the independent of area. Lastly, combined with the analysis of theory and practice, the study suggested a policy design which include strategic positioning of food security, accurate food supply network, and rational food consumption guidance. And some conclusions were as follows:

(1) By referring to current research and study area, the study amended some indicators of food security from Food and Agriculture Organization(FAO) and United States Agency for International Development(USAID). Meanwhile, indicators of food safety at urban household level are proposed innovatively based on concerns on food safety problems in China. The measurement system includes three parts which were quantity, nutrition and safety base on cognition of urban household. And result shows a good reliability both in theory and practice.

(2) It generated four results from the analysis of food security degree. First, overall, the degree of food security of Nanjing urban households was at middle level, and there was a big difference among them. Second, it showed a high level on food quantity security, which may suggest that the indicators HFIAS and MAHFP may exist some limitations when applied in China food security research. Third, the overall level of food nutrition was at middle level, consistent with the fact of a shift in food consumption patterns of urban households in Nanjing. Fourth, the level of household food safety was low, and there exist differences within households; measurement of food safety played an important role in this research of urban household food security. Fifth, from the four rank of food security, we can find that over 25% of them were high security, but a quarter of them were low security due to poor situation of household food safety.

(3) There were differences in the level of food security in space for urban households in Nanjing. Specifically, firstly, to view district as a unit, the average level of food security for urban households in Gaochun and four downtown districts (Gulou, Qinhuai, Xuanwu and Jianye) was higher. It indicated that results of green food and pollution-free food production were good. Secondly, the result of Exploratory Spatial Data Analysis (ESDA) showed that the simulated surface of Nanjing urban households’ food security level was centered on the four downtown districts and northern of Jiangning with “center high, periphery low”, which was consistent with the district-unit-statistic results.

(4) There were several factors influencing the food security of Nanjing urban households. First, the integrity and stability of the structure of the household has a positive effect on the food security. Both the integrated core family and big family had a higher level of food security than single center family. Second, the education would promote the level of food security. This is because the higher education urban residents were apt to select a more nutritious and safer diet. Third, the individual economic conditions, such as the level and stability of income, had a positive effect on food security. Fourth, the proximity of food access exerted a positive effect on food security. No matter we select by car or on foot to represent proximity, the result shows that closer to food supply place, higher of household food security.

The degree of food security was also influenced by some factors from district level. Economic level and residents’ income had a positive effect on urban household food security, but proportion of floating population had a negative effect.

Zhiying Xu

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