• Sep 01, 2014 - Nov 30, 2016
  • Institution:
    University of Waterloo, Canada
  • Researcher(s):
    Akunne Okoli
  • Supervisor(s):
    Dr. Simron J. Singh; Dr. Goretty Dias
  • Project website

Socioeconomic metabolism of Biomass in Jamaica in the Context of Trade and National Food Security: A time series biophysical analysis (1961-2013)

This thesis presents a novel study on the historical evolution of socioeconomic metabolism of biomass in Jamaica in the context of trade and national food security. The goal of this study was to provide empirical insight into the structure of Jamaica biomass system by analyzing biomass material flows (domestic extraction, imports, and exports) from 1961 to 2013, and on this basis establish a link to the issue of national food security in Jamaica. A biomass material database in time series was constructed for Jamaica based on Eurostat methodological guidelines and general principles of economy-wide material flow account and analysis (EW-MFA). The constructed database allowed for the characterization of biomass production and consumption using the calculated material flow indicators- domestic extraction (DE), domestic consumption (DMC) and physical trade balance (PTB). The degree of import dependency was also calculated. To establish a link between patterns of biomass metabolism, trade and national food security, the scope of MFA was expanded to conduct a time series analysis of national food availability and progress towards food self-sufficiency based on analysis of dietary energy supply (DES) and dietary energy production (DEP) in Jamaica. Results obtained revealed a declining trend in both metabolic scale and metabolic rate of biomass use in Jamaica. MFA calculated indicators showed two alternating phases of growth and decline in the evolution of biomass use- peak growth (1966 and 1996) and steep decline (1981 and 2006). Primary crops dominated DE (48%) and DMC (47%). Cereals (74%) dominated physical imports flows and export flows were dominated by sugar cane (76%). Jamaica agro-food system is characterized by export oriented production as the share of mainstay food crops in overall primary crop extraction was less than 10%. A high food Import dependency ratio was observed. Food energy availability has significantly improved since 1961 from 1740 kcal/cap/day to 2470 kcal/cap/day in 2013. Jamaica is yet to achieve food self-sufficiency as DEP remains critically below the minimum dietary energy requirement threshold for Jamaica. This study contributes to the growing body of research on material flow analysis and socioeconomic metabolism. It offers a starting point for methodological enhancement of the MFA framework towards adapting it for food security studies.