Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Nepal ranks 79 out of 105 countries in food security

The EIU has come up with a new global food security index by considering three factors (corresponding weights in brackets): affordability (40%), availability (44%), and quality and safety (16%).  The 1996 World Food Summit defines food security as the state in which people at all times have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs for a healthy and active life.

Out of the 105 countries, Nepal’s overall rank is 79 with a score of 35.2 (low rank and high score are better). The overall index is composed of 25 indicators related to the three main factors. The table shows ranking of South Asian countries with the most favorable conditions for food security. Its no wonder that Nepal’s ranking is the lowest in the region in terms of affordability given that the food prices have been higher than non-food prices (see this blog post, and also this, this and this paper).

The report notes that Nepal’s major strength with regards to food security are

  • Nutritional standards
  • Volatility of agricultural production
  • Agricultural import tariffs
  • Food safety (most run by multilateral agencies and NGOs)

And major weakness are:

  • Public expenditure on agricultural R&D
  • Food consumption as a share of household expenditure
  • Gross domestic product per capita
  • Diet diversification
  • Protein quality
Rank Country Score Rank Country Score
62 Sri Lanka 47.4 61 Sri Lanka 45.6
66 India 45 70 India 38.4
75 Pakistan 38.5 78 Bangladesh 33
79 Nepal 35.2 79 Pakistan 32.9
81 Bangladesh 34.6 91 Nepal 22.6
Rank Country Score Rank Country Score
52 India 51.3 56 Pakistan 55.5
58 Sri Lanka 49.2 70 Sri Lanka 46.8
71 Nepal 43.8 73 India 44.2
81 Bangladesh 37.6 74 Nepal 42.6
82 Pakistan 37.4 92 Bangladesh 30.4

Overall, the top five countries having the most favorable conditions for food security are the US, Denmark, Norway, France and Netherlands.

Affordability is composed of sub-indicators namely food consumption as a share of household expenditure, proportion of population under global poverty line, gross domestic product per capita, agricultural import tariffs, presence of food safety net programs, access to farmer financing. In affordability, the US, Switzerland, Netherlands, Norway and Australia are top ranked countries.

Availability is composed of sub-indicators namely sufficiency of supply (average food supply and dependency on chronic food aid), public expenditure on agricultural R&D, agricultural infrastructure (existence of adequate crop storage facilities, road infrastructure, and port infrastructure), volatility of agricultural production, and political instability. In availability, Denmark, Norway, France, the US and Netherlands are the top ranked countries.

Quality and safety is composed of sub-indicators namely diet diversification, nutritional standards (national dietary guidelines, national nutrition plan or strategy, and nutrition monitoring and surveillance), micronutrient availability (dietary availability of vitamin A, animal iron and vegetal iron), protein quality, and food safety (agency to ensure the safety and health of food, percentage of population with access to portable water, and presence of formal grocery sector). In quality and safety, Israel, France, the US, Portugal and Spain are the top ranked countries.

The figure below shows the overall food security index score with respect to per capita GDP, poverty, agriculture infrastructure, and political stability risk. Nepal’s position is marked by a red dot. The yellow dots are South Asian countries. Needless to say, Nepal’s standing is quite low in all of them (except for poverty).