The world remains dangerously unprepared to meet skyrocketing food prices and hunger
By Food in Canada StaffFood Trends Editor pick Global Food Security Index
The 11th edition of the Global Food Security Index (GFSI) reveals a fragile global food system ill prepared to weather shocks like the war in Ukraine and this summer’s heatwaves.
The study from Economist Impact, supported by Corteva Agriscience, finds that insufficient investment and increasing volatility continue to drive the deterioration of the global food environment. This year’s skyrocketing food prices and rising global hunger are not just the product of conflict and extreme weather; they are also the reflection of a worrying trend of declining resilience in our food system.
The world made big gains in food security from 2012 to 2015, with overall GFSI scores jumping six per cent. However, structural issues and significant risks in the global food system subsequently led growth to slow, and for the past three years the trend in the overall food security environment has reversed.
Stalled progress reflects volatility in agricultural production, weak investment in agricultural research and development, scarcity of natural resources, rising inequality, and trade and supply-chain volatility. The GFSI shows governments are not prepared for the inevitable increase in extreme weather events like this summer’s heatwaves across Europe and North America and devastating flooding in Pakistan. Water management techniques and existing irrigation systems that can help manage the effects of climate change are lacking globally.
In an era of scarcity in natural resources, investment in agricultural R&D to enhance yields and sustainably improve production is in decline, while soil and land management practices remain weak.
“The 2022 Global Food Security Index highlights the crucial impact of structural issues and risks to food security such as volatility in agricultural production, trade and supply-chain disruption, scarcity of natural resources, and increasing economic inequality,” says Pratima Singh, principal, Policy and Insights at Economist Impact. “Recent shocks, like the Ukraine conflict and high food prices, are stressing an already fragile global food system.”
“Economist Impact’s global report highlights the critical role farmers play in addressing food security, and actions we can all take to address the wide gaps in underserved markets,” says Tim Glenn, executive vice-president, Seed Business Unit, Corteva Agriscience. “There is an urgent action to renew our collective commitment to collaboration and improving access to innovation to combat food insecurity.”
GFSI evaluates and ranks 113 countries on 68 indicators, including affordability, availability and quality of their food supply, as well as sustainability and adaptation. To account for the complexity, interconnectedness and ever-changing nature of the global food system, several new indicators were added to GFSI this year. These capture farmers’ access to community organizations and extension services, and changes in producer prices.
Key findings from the 2022 GFSI are:
● Affordability scores have dropped globally: Affordability scores have dropped by four per cent between 2019 and 2022, dragging overall scores down in the 2022 GFSI. This decline has been driven by the COVID-19 pandemic and higher prices for agricultural inputs, combined with weakening trade freedom and government inability to fund safety nets. This sharp fall does not include the most recent developments, including global food price inflation of 7.9 per cent.
● European economies are the most food secure: Eight of the top 10 performers in 2022 come from high-income Europe, led by Finland (with a score of 83.7), Ireland (scoring 81.7) and Norway (scoring 80.5). Japan (scoring 79.5) and Canada (scoring 79.1) round out the remainder of the top 10.
● The least food-secure countries are active conflict zones and face severe climate risks: Syria is at the bottom of the list (with a score of 36.3), followed by Haiti (scoring 38.5) and Yemen (scoring 40.1). Consistent with past years of the index, six of the bottom 10 scoring nations in 2022 come from Sub-Saharan Africa, where climate risks are most acute and three countries are also dealing with conflict.
● The food security situation across nations varies widely: The average score of the top 10 countries is twice that of the bottom 10, and Syria achieves less than half Finland’s score. This inequality has increased over time. The difference between the top performer and the country at the bottom of the ranking has continued widening since 2019.
● Irrigation systems and water management techniques need urgent attention to counter the effects of climate change: Extreme weather and warmer temperatures demand that we use water resources effectively. Yet, the 2022 GFSI shows policymakers are falling short in efforts to manage water risk. Irrigation infrastructure has been largely unchanged in the 11 years of GFSI, remaining the lowest scoring of all measures in the index.
To access the global and regional reports and other detailed findings from the index, visit https://economistimpact.com/food-security-index.
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