The Rice Bowl Index is an initiative that for one thing helps evaluate food security of 14 Asian countries. The Rice Bowl Index Advisory Board of leaders in the private and government sectors provides strategic insight and direction to the evolution of the Rice Bowl Index.

The half-year update is to report changes and emerging trends in four measurement rubrics. The latest report provides evaluation through the end of December 2012,

During the period May to December 2012, nine of the 14 Asian countries included in the Rice Bowl Index showed a decline in overall food security robustness, while three countries improved and two remained unchanged. The changes are relative to the other countries included in the Index and hence a country may have improved in actual terms over the period, but if the improvement is less than other countries, the final result is reported as an overall decline in food security robustness.

The volatile nature of agricultural production and commodity prices in the short term and the longer-term nature of policy change and environmental development (or degradation) underscores changes.

In the period May to December 2012:

• Nine countries experienced an overall decline in total food security system robustness (Australia, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Korea and Thailand )

• Two countries showed no discernible change in robustness (China, Philippines)

• Three countries improved their food security system robustness (Malaysia, Myanmar and Vietnam)

The implication is that for the period, across the majority of countries in the Asia-Pacific region, the overall preparedness, capacity and capability to deliver food security became more challenging i.e. their systems were less robust than in May 2012.