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SA gets food security boost

Jul 27 2016 13:58
Lameez Omarjee

Johannesburg - South Africa ranked 47th out of 113 countries in the Global Food Security Index (GFSI) 2016, compiled by The Economist Intelligent Unit. 

Findings show that global food security has improved over the past five years, which is mainly due to rising incomes across countries, general improvement in the global economy and falling food prices. But weather and climate change-related risks pose risks to food prices and availability in the future.

The index measured each of the countries against 28 indicators  across three categories, being food availability, affordability, and quality and safety. This data is meant to help different stakeholders such as non-government organisations, businesses, academics and governments for different purposes, explained Morgan Gray, internal communications leader EMEA and Sub-Saharan Africa Communications for DuPont.

"There has been improvement in the past five years, but we are not moving the needle fast enough," said Prabdeep Bajwa, regional business director for DuPont Pioneer Africa. Global food prices have generally been better and more affordable. Despite the progress there have been challenges associated with climate change.

There is food availability but infrastructure is lacking. As a result a third of food produced globally is not consumed. "About 50% of fruit and vegetables go rotten," said Bajwa. This is because of a lack of cold storage facilities to keep supply fresh and transport for distribution. 

Some studies indicate that the need for food production will grow by 50% to 70% in the next few decades, said Bajwa. Only 12% of South Africa's land is fertile and less than 5% of that land is considered high potential land, he added. "Arable land is not increasing ... agricultural land is going to be under pressure."

Africa-related findings

Nine of the bottom 10 countries in the GFSI are African. These include Mozambique, Malawi and Madagascar. South Africa has made progress in the index, moving 0.6 points up from 46 in 2015. 

South Africa is ranked first among other sub-Saharan African countries in all three categories: affordability, availability, and quality and safety. Compared to other upper-middle income countries, such as Brazil and China, South Africa ranked 10th overall. The country ranked 3rd for availability, 13th in terms of quality and safety and ranked 15th in terms of affordability. 

General findings

Over the past five years, the upper-middle class income countries showed improvement, due to economic prosperity which helped infrastructure investment. The average share of household spending on food declined by 11%. This is mostly due to households shifting their demands away from food as they make progress.

However low-income countries did not improve, said Gray. This could be because of various issues hindering development. Once countries reach a threshold of development, investments can shift toward infrastructure. However, poorer countries' investments are often directed to addressing basic needs such as food security.

About 70% of countries in the index have introduced nutritional standards, to address food quality. The research also shows that developing countries benefit from diversity in diets, said Bajwa. 

"Agriculture is the backbone of food security," said Bajwa. Infrastructure needs to be developed across the value chain, and all stakeholders need to be engaged in creating solutions. Diet diversification, high quality protein, and increasing investment in agricultural research and development is necessary for food security progress within South Africa. 

south africa  |  consumer  |  food  |  agriculture  |  hunger
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