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5 Ways to Work in Food Security


From research to direct service, nutritionists are necessary to the issue of food security. Nutrition is a key issue in ensuring healthy development of children and improved life span for communities. It also helps create healthy, able-bodied workers who can contribute to and improve the economy. Much of nutritionists work is about building capacity for countries and governments to deal with food security during crises and disasters. More than a lack of food, malnutrition is about the substance and quality of food that is eaten in communities that to child mortality, illness, and other complications.

Those with public health or biology backgrounds will be well-suited for jobs in nutrition, although not all jobs in this area will require those academic backgrounds. Many jobs that involve research or advanced knowledge of nutrition science may require a doctoral degree. Nutrition education backgrounds are also useful in this field, with many campaigns including education and awareness aspects to help communities understand the importance and various aspects of nutrition.

Jobs in this area can be found at many levels but are more commonly found with government organizations, international organizations, and private sector development companies. Research institutions may also offer positions dealing with nutrition. Examples of organizations include USAID, International Rescue Committee, DAI, Relief International, World Vision, SNV Netherlands Development Organisation, World Food Programme, Abt Associates, Medair, CAMRIS International.


Agriculture is a key component to food security, ensuring that communities can have sustainable food sources and have access to agricultural markets to increase economic wellbeing. The goal of much of agricultural development work is to decrease hunger and poverty through increased productivity and through increased selling of crops. Agricultural specialists often work directly with small farms to increase their capacity for growing crops and to help them find ways to make markets more accessible. They also deal with issues such as animal husbandry, pest control, food technology, and biodiversity—issues that farmers in developing countries are encountering regularly.

Those with academic backgrounds in agricultural science, forestry, engineering, resource management, or a related field are best suited for positions dealing with agricultural development. Many of the positions are science and/or research focused, so experience with research methods is useful in this career path. Any experience with farming, animal husbandry, or related occupations is also useful, and occasionally academic backgrounds in social sciences are also necessary for these positions. Those dealing with markets and trade typically need an economics background.

Jobs in this field are typically found in international development organizations, government organizations, larger non-governmental organizations, and private sector companies. Examples of agricultural development programs and positions include USAID, USDA, CABI, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, CARE, International Food & Agricultural Trade Policy Council, One Acre Fund, Winrock International, AIARD, African Development Bank, Global Communities, IFAD.


Several environmental development issues impact food security, especially issues such as climate change and exploitation of natural resources. Food insecurity also comes around from natural disasters, soil degradation, desertification, and other issues related to insufficient quality of farmland. Much of the work in this area deals with research on existing and potential impacts of the environment on food security. Others help communities gain capacity to deal with environmental factors that can negatively impact food access and sustainability, ensuring that farming does not have its own negative impacts on the environment and working to reverse environmental destruction that can lead to less crops and increased food insecurity.

Science and engineering academic backgrounds are typically necessary for these types of jobs, especially environmental-specific knowledge and degrees. Experience with and knowledge of agricultural development is useful. Skills in research methods are necessary for many positions in this career path.

Many of the jobs in this career path are with international organizations, multilateral organizations, government institutions, research institutes, and private development agencies. Examples of organizations in this field of work are European Environment Agency, International Food Policy Research Institute, FAO, World Food Programme, USDA, International Atomic Energy Agency, Fairtrade International, Biodiversity International, InterAction, Chemonics, UNEP.

Supply chain management

Supply chains are about getting food from farm to table—not only helping to alleviate hunger but also to increase the economic livelihood of small farmers in less developed regions. Much of this work is focused on the economics of food security and agriculture, building capacity for small farmers to be able to access markets efficiently so they can sell their produce in a timely manner. These specialists also help farmers determine how their product will sell, whether they should upgrade to a premium product, if they need a microloan/credit, and more.

Those with backgrounds in economics, business, and finance will be well-suited for these positions. Knowledge of agriculture, trade markets, and other food security topics is also helpful to have a full understanding of the challenges surrounding supply chain management and food security. Many jobs in this career path are also tied into positions dealing with larger agricultural development issues, so science, forestry, and agriculture backgrounds can also be helpful.

Jobs in this career path are often with international organizations, multilateral organizations, and private sector development agencies. Examples of organizations working with supply chain management are USAID, UNDP, UNEP, Catholic Relief Services, Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture, Cargill, Worldwatch Institute, Australian International Food Security Centre.

Land rights

Land rights are important to food security, helping to ensure that poor communities have secure access to land, as well as control and ownership. Many organizations working in this career path specifically work to help women gain land ownership, especially since so many of them work in agriculture but so few own the land. Security to land helps promote sustainability because farmers are more willing to invest finances and labor to improve the land and increase the crops. This, in exchange, leads to greater food security because the farmers increase productivity and are more willing to increase sustainability and capacity to sell. Land rights are a key component of food security within international development.

Academic and professional backgrounds in development issues, agriculture, human rights, and social sciences are useful in this field. While law degrees are not necessary for many jobs dealing with land rights, knowledge and experience in law can be extremely helpful in understanding laws and policies surrounding land and property rights. Many of these positions require previous work experience in a related area, and much of the work around this issue is research-based.

Organizations with jobs in this career path are typically international organizations, research institutes, multilateral organizations, and private sector companies. Examples of organizations with these types of jobs include World Bank, Abt Associates, Social Impact, ActionAid, Landesa, Focus on Land in Africa, USAID.