The surprising driver behind food security

The EIU estimates that food security increased over the past 5 years in 89 of the 113 countries it tracked

According to a new report, rising income is the biggest single factor behind a country's improved food security.

What gives a country food security? The Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) asks this question in a new report.

Its answer: not necessarily “growing lots of food”.

In the EIU’s list of the most food-secure nations, third place goes to tiny Singapore, whose agricultural production satisfies barely one-tenth of its needs and employs less than 0.1 per cent of its 5.7 million population.

The EIU calls food security “a complex, multifaceted issue”. It argues that affordability – “the capacity to afford good-quality food without undue stress” – is just as important as factors such as availability, where the US comes out on top, and quality and safety, where Portugal, France, the US and Australia top the rankings.

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Food security: the EIU's top and bottom.The EIU estimates that food security increased over the past five years in 89 of the 113 countries it tracked. The biggest single factor: rising incomes, which improved this year’s rankings for nations such as Indonesia.

At the bottom of the EIU food security list are developing nations vulnerable to weather events – “changing weather patterns, drought, increased rainfall and flooding” – that disrupt food supplies, make production more volatile and push up prices.

These nations need to invest in infrastructure and food systems, make themselves more resilient to changing weather patterns and increase private investment.

Meanwhile, the most vulnerable in many countries still need help, the EIU says, whether through cash grants or schemes like food banks.

Read next: From mining to dining: Can Asia save Australian farmers?


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September 2016
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