Food be regarded as the major pillar of

Food security is defined in different ways by international organizations and researchers. According to (Maxwell, 1996), there are close to 200 definitions of food security. Since the world food conference of 1974 definitions evolved from viewpoints ranging from emphasis on national food security or an increase in supply to those calling for improved access to food in the 1980s (FAO, 1993). In the 1990s , improved  access was redefined by taking into account livelihood and subjective considerations (Maxwell, 1996). Definitions underwent another round of evolution after  the 1996 world food summit, when the definition was broadly set as achieving food security “at the individual, household, national, regional and global levels when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life”(FAO, 1996). Currently, a synthesis of these definitions, with the main emphasis on availability, access, and utilization, serves as working definition in the projects of international organizations.Though food security as a problem at the national level was first felt in Ethiopia in the 1960s, it only started influencing policy in the 1980s, when food self-sufficiency became one of the objectives of the Ten-year perspective plan (TYPP) in the early 1980s. This took place after the 1983/84 drought and famine, which claimed millions of lives (Alemu,, 2002). While efforts to ensure adequate food supplies at the national level are laudable, these efforts on their own cannot ensure food availability for households and individuals. As Sen (11981) argues, ensuring access to food, not merely increasing food supplies, should be regarded as the major pillar of food security. This assertion is borne out by empirical evidence that suggests that, even in times when countries experience famine, food supplies have been generally available, even in regions where large numbers of people died of starvation. The problem is that those who needed the food do not have the means to acquire it (Sen, 1986).