African countries are becoming food-secure by lowering food prices, improving market access and showing strong commitments to food security strategies and policies, according to a report.
Tanzania has topped world rankings for its improved food security over the last decade, defying the double impact of climate change and Covid-19 that continues to wreak havoc on global food systems.
The East African country grew its score by 13.3 points, the highest among the world’s 10 most-improved nations over the period, shows the Global Food Security Index, compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit, on behalf of Corteva Agriscience.
Other African countries that made the Top 10 cut are Algeria (3rd) and Kenya (10th), each with a significant rise attributed to their ability to tackle affordability, instill safety nets and boost market access.
“They have also cut back on volatility in production and committed to food security strategies and adaptation policies,” said the authors of the index.
Food security and access policy commitments, addressing volatility of agricultural production and reduction in average food prices led to Tanzania’s (ranked 86th globally) stellar improvement in food security.
54th-ranked Algeria grew its score by 10.7 points after cutting down the percentage of its population living below the global poverty line and improving food supply, while Kenya (90th) improved its score by 8.5 points, by boosting micronutrient availability in its food products. Apart from affordability, availability, quality and natural resources – the key pillars of food security – the index also tracks the impact of income and economic inequality, gender inequality, and environmental and natural resources inequality on food systems across 113 countries. Morocco (8.5 points) and Guinea (8.3 points) also scored highly as improvement in food security trends showed improvement across African nations over the 10-year period.
“The countries that are models for food security are those that score highly on all four pillars of food security,” according to the index.
Mali, Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger, Senegal, Benin and Togo recorded improvements of more than five points on their food security scores over the 10-year review period.
Over the last year, Tunisia (2.5 points), Madagascar (2.4 points) and Algeria (2.3 points) made it onto the list of the world’s 10 countries that recorded the biggest changes in overall score.
According to the index, a twin impact of Covid-19 and climate change continues to put a strain on global food systems, making it difficult for many countries to improve their agricultural productivity.
Those sentiments were echoed by the World Bank in a brief published on October 21, citing the rising number of countries facing growing levels of acute food insecurity.
“Even before Covid-19 reduced incomes and disrupted supply chains, chronic and acute hunger were on the rise due to various factors including conflict, socio-economic conditions, natural hazards, climate change and pests,” said the World Bank brief.
In Africa, about one-in-five people (21 percent of the population) faced hunger during 2020, according to a Food and Agriculture Organisation report, “The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2021.”
Pratima Singh, a project lead for the Global Food Security Index at Economist Impact, has called on countries to consider future-proofing food supply by investing in technology, agricultural research and development.
“We must prioritise agricultural adaptation, including through national and regional policies, and disaster risk management plans, to develop sustainable food production, systems and implement resilient agricultural practices,” Singh said.