The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) issued findings from the annual Global Food Security Index, a first-of-its-kind ranking tool to comprehensively measure food security and monitor the ongoing impact of agriculture investments, collaborations and policies around the world. Commissioned by DuPont, the 2013 Index expands on the 25 previously identified food security indicators to determine how two new factors, political corruption and urbanization, affect access to safe, nutritious and affordable food. Additionally, the 2013 Index includes Singapore and Ireland in the 107-country comparison, designed to track progress, foster collaboration and create real-world solutions to help feed the 9 billion people on Earth.
“Addressing food security is fruitless without measurement tools and global benchmarks, together with a continued commitment, but most important: Action,” said DuPont Pioneer President Paul E. Schickler. “Since we commissioned the first Global Food Security Index last year, governments, NGOs and academics have used the Index as a roadmap to identify critical food security issues and make better informed decisions, develop collaborative partnerships and create effective local policies to address country-specific needs.”
Using the 2012 Index findings as a guide, DuPont formed a joint-partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Ethiopian Government to help smallholder farmers access better seeds and increase productivity. This year, the Sub-Saharan African nation jumped several spots on the Index as a result of this new program and other advances such as farmers’ improved access to financing.
2013 Key Findings
While the average 2013 Global Food Index Score remained flat (53.5 percent versus 53.6 percent in 2012), some trends emerged from the year-on-year comparisons that shed light on the stagnant figure:
- Nutrition is Key in Chile and Beyond: The 2013 Global Food Security Index shines a spotlight on nutrition: More than 3 million children under the age of 5 die from malnutrition each year. In Latin America, these issues are especially acute since only 53 percent of countries in the region have official policies regarding nutrition in place in primary schools. “Access to safe, nutritious and affordable food is critical to health and overall development,” said Schickler while speaking alongside NGO and government partners at a nutrition and agriculture roundtable event in Santiago, Chile. Thanks to decades of strong economic management and political stability, Chile leads Latin America in terms of food availability and affordability and ranks second only to Argentina for its food quality and safety. “While it’s important to acknowledge progress, we need to scrutinize the findings further to identify country-specific areas of concern and collaborate with partners to implement tailored, local solutions here in Chile (where diet diversification and obesity remain issues) and hundreds of countries around the world to ensure that nutrition is addressed holistically.”
- Developing Nations Make Progress as Industrialized Countries Face Setbacks: Sub-Saharan African nations including Ethiopia, Senegal and Botswana made significant progress this past year, rising an average of nine places in the Index, with improvements attributed to rising incomes, greater access to farmer financing along with heightened emphasis on quality food and nutrition. The growth in developing nations contrasts a fall in developed European economies, in particular Greece, as it regressed as fallout of financial collapse and lower gross domestic product.
- Broader Food Security Metrics: Rather than measure food security in black and white terms, the 2013 Index tracks 27 diverse factors that may explicitly or implicitly affect access to safe, nutritious and affordable food. New this year, the Index points to political conflicts in Mali, Yemen and Syria as significant contributors to food insecurity in the regions. With regard to urbanization, emerging markets appear best positioned to respond to the long-term trend and implications for food security: Sierra Leone was the top-ranked country in this new indicator, primarily as a result of its strong urban farming, which has been crucial in supporting the country’s nutritional needs.
“We’ve spent hundreds of hours collecting and analyzing data for the Index so we can better understand what factors help and hinder food security,” said Leo Abruzzese, the Economist Intelligence Unit’s global forecasting director. “Our goal is to provide a comprehensive, global picture of food security so that stakeholders like DuPont can work with partners in vulnerable areas of the world where food insecurity is a serious concern.” For more in-depth analysis of the 2013 Index, watch Abruzzese speak to key trends by clicking here.
For more information on the interactive Global Food Security Index, including definitions of the 27 global indicators, food price tracking, multi-country comparisons and more, visit: http://foodsecurityindex.eiu.com/.