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Revisiting the Global Food Security Index    

Developed by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), and supported by Corteva Agriscience, the Global Food Security Index (GFSI) measures the drivers of food security in developing and developed countries. The GFSI, which is now in its ninth edition, is based on 59 qualitative and quantitative indicators. It was recently used in 113 countries located in the Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa, and North America. Essentially, the GFSI measures “how effectively a country is able to meet its population’s caloric and nutritional needs while also examining the impact of external factors”. The latter includes, among others, agricultural infrastructure, political stability, and climate risks.

Based on the findings of the 2020 GFSI, the EIU reported early this year that the current health pandemic has exposed food security risks, and deepened the challenges that countries faced in addressing essential food security issues. More specifically, findings showed:

  1. Asian countries (e.g. China, Myanmar and Indonesia) and Ghana have made the most significant improvements in reducing poverty since the year 2012 when the GFSI was initially introduced.
  2. European countries tend to have a better ability to cope with unexpected economic shocks that can drive food insecurity.
  3. Food safety nets are in place in 110 out of 113 countries.
  4. Governments in 63 out of 113 countries were able to provide targeted support via mobile technology (e.g. timely information, targeted agriculture advice, and financial services to small farmers).
  5. The agriculture and food sector in the Middle East and Africa need to address gender disparity especially in health, education, employment, and political representation.
  6. Only 54 out of 113 countries have a national food security strategy in place.
  7. Low and lower-middle income countries in Asia, Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa have demonstrated their capability to produce food profitably and nutritionally as well.
  8. A warmer climate and reduced rainfall condition are associated with land degradation and desertification. This implies that countries where high temperatures are prevalent (e.g. Southeast Asia, Latin America) are facing higher risks in food production due to climate change. In Europe, some countries are experiencing droughts, and has affected crop production. About 49 countries worldwide were found to be vulnerable to climate change. However, it is good to know that some countries have demonstrated the use of tech-related innovations that have enabled them to manage climate change.
  9. Countries in Africa and Asia face increasing risk from flooding as well as agricultural water contamination.
  10. Food import dependency was observed in countries with agriculture resource constraints (e.g. Singapore, Bahrain, Qatar, the UAE and Kuwait).

by Louie A. Divinagracia


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