Policy and Infrastructure Developments Drive Food Security Improvements in Sub-Saharan Africa

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2015 Global Food Security Index (GFSI) annual update reveals progress in structural investment; impressive gains in Quality & Safety, says DuPont

Dr Richard Okine

For the first time, improvements in the structures that impact food security, rather than income improvements, are driving positive score changes.

Favourable policies and investments in agricultural infrastructure have emerged as the major drivers of food-security improvements in Sub-Saharan Africa. This is according to results released by The Economist Intelligence Unit’s (The EIU’s) 2015 Global Food Security Index (GFSI) annual update.

“Food security challenges for developed and developing countries differ considerably,” said Dr Richard Okine, Regional Director for DuPont Sub-Saharan Africa. “Developing countries often lack basic infrastructure, including storage, road and port facilities, while smaller incomes inhibit access to and affordability of nutritious food. Political risk and corruption frequently compound structural difficulties in these countries. Investment in infrastructure and food systems in low-income and lower-middle income countries is the key to narrowing the gap.”

The GFSI is an annual measure of food security across 109 countries, produced by The EIU and sponsored by DuPont. The index looks at 19 specific measures of food security across three broad categories: affordability, availability and quality & safety. The 2015 Global Food Security Index results, unveiled at the DuPont Forum on Food and Agriculture: Rural and Urban Innovations at Expo Milan 2015 revealed that food security improved in two-thirds of the 109 countries covered.

Global Results
Overall GFSI results show that food security has improved in almost every region of the world over the past year. Sustained economic expansion in most regions and rapid growth in developing countries, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, combined with lower global food prices provided the necessary operating context, while government investments in agriculture and infrastructure - begun in the wake of the food price shocks of 2007-08 - have also been crucial to improving food security.

Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA)
Food security in SSA is continuing to improve. Of the 28 countries in the region, 82% recorded score increases between 2014 and 2015, and the region as a whole saw a score improvement of 1.5 points.

For the first time, improvements in the structures that impact food security, rather than income improvements, are driving positive score changes. The high economic growth rates that SSA has experienced in recent years have resulted in increased investment in the structures that are necessary to ensure food security. The report shows that both public and private investment in SSA’s agricultural and food systems have begun to pay off and major improvements occurred in the following areas; food safety-net programmes, crop storage facilities and the subsequent reduction in the percentage in food loss.

“An overwhelmingly positive factor has been the fact that over the past few years, the overall economic growth in the developing world has led to improvements in the structural areas that are essential to improving people’s access to a wider range of affordable, nutritious foods,” said Dr Okine. “This includes more extensive food safety-net programmes, expanded crop storage capacity and dietary diversity.”

Sub-Saharan Africa also saw impressive gains in food Quality & Safety. Burkina Faso and Mali led the way, driven by improved access to quality protein, a measure of the average consumption of essential amino acids in a country’s diet. Burkina Faso also made significant strides in the diet diversification indicator, with a 25% increase (87% score increase) in the amount of non-starchy foods consumed in the average diet.

Looking Ahead
Such progress notwithstanding, global food insecurity remains a challenge. According to UN estimates, the world population is projected to increase by 1 billion over the next 12 years and reach 9.6 billion by 2050, with growth coming mainly from developing countries, with more than half in Africa. As populations boom and incomes rise in developing countries, the FAO estimates food production will have to grow by 50% to meet demand.

“Solutions must be collaborative - reached in concert with communities, governments, NGOs and farmers who know the ‘facts on the ground’ and with global businesses who have the specialized expertise or resources to help solve particular problems,” said Dr Okine. “Food system infrastructure, including transport and storage facilities, takes longer to improve than other elements necessary for food security, but government prioritisation and public private-sector partnerships have driven, and will likely continue to drive, progress.”

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DuPont is committed to driving food security efforts locally, sustainably and collaboratively; visit foodsecurity.dupont.com or follow the conversation on Twitter at #foodsecurity to learn more. For more information on the interactive Global Food Security Index, including definitions of the 28 global indicators, impact of changing food prices, multi-country comparisons and more, visit: http://foodsecurityindex.eiu.com/.

About DuPont
DuPont (NYSE: DD) has been bringing world-class science and engineering to the global marketplace in the form of innovative products, materials, and services since 1802. The company believes that by collaborating with customers, governments, NGOs, and thought leaders we can help find solutions to such global challenges as providing enough healthy food for people everywhere, decreasing dependence on fossil fuels, and protecting life and the environment. For additional information about DuPont and its commitment to inclusive innovation, please visit http://www.dupont.co.za, follow @DuPontAfrica on Twitter or download the DuPont EMEA News app for iOS and Android.

About The Economist Intelligence Unit
The Economist Intelligence Unit is the world leader in global business intelligence. It is the business-to-business arm of The Economist Group, which publishes The Economist newspaper. As the world's leading provider of country intelligence, The Economist Intelligence Unit helps executives make better business decisions by providing timely, reliable and impartial analysis on worldwide market trends and business strategies. More information about the Economist Intelligence Unit can be found at http://www.eiu.com or follow us on http://www.twitter.com/theeiu.

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