Food insecurity is an issue that affects those in poverty at a higher rate. Due to supply chain issues, food prices are at a record high. Lower and middle-income countries are at a higher risk of the impact of increases in food prices because they spend a higher percentage of their income on food.
Food security is defined as having access to an adequate amount of food to sustain individual health and well-being. More than 2.3 billion people were food insecure in 2020. This was an increase of about 320 million people from 2019. In addition, there are still an estimated 660 million people who may experience food insecurity by 2030. Food insecurity is a serious threat to the livelihood of those in poverty. Those in middle and lower-income countries are more likely to suffer from hunger due to the inability to access the resources needed to be food secure. There are currently about 800 million people who are malnourished, and about 780 million of them live in low to middle-income countries. Additionally, in areas with chronic poverty, malnutrition is often present. Food insecurity is an economic issue, and when local areas do not have control over their food supply, the economy suffers, along with the health of the individuals that comprise it.
Economics and Food Insecurity
Food insecurity closely relates to economic principles; supply chain issues have caused an increase in food insecurity, especially in countries with weaker economies. In July 2022, the Agriculture Price Index was 19% greater than in January 2021. Moreover, the price of maize was 16% higher and wheat prices rose by 22% from January 2021 to July 2022. The COVID-19 pandemic still plays a huge role in supply chain issues and food insecurity. Around 130 million people could endure chronic hunger because of the pandemic’s damage to the supply chain. Furthermore, the supply chain has been restricted since the start of the war in Ukraine. Additional limitations by more than 15 countries since July 2022 have exacerbated supply chain issues. World events influence the supply chain, but strengthening local economies and producers will likely contribute to increased food security.
In order to solve food insecurity, it is essential to make food accessible. One way to do this is through the supply chain. When every branch of the supply chain – from the local farmers to the consumers – is strengthened, local communities can be better served. Up to 80% of food comes from small farms; when these farmers are able to work in their local communities, they can cut down on costs and fight food insecurity. Economically, it is less expensive to buy food locally than to import it. However, farmers need additional support to counteract the supply chain issues and potential loss of income. The average salary of more than 500 million small farmers around the world is just $2 a day. Making the necessary changes to food accessibility, such as subsidizing local farms, will be a boon to food security.
In the northeastern Brazilian state of Bahia, the startup, Agrorobótica, is analyzing dry soy fields using NASA technology. This organization takes soil samples and then analyzes their composition. The robots measure the amount of carbon in the soil. When farmers know how much carbon is in their soil, they can find ways to improve their farmland. By implementing sustainable farming practices like cover cropping, conservation tilling and crop rotations, farmers are able to improve soil productivity and, thus, fight food insecurity. Agrorobótica CEO, Fabio Angelis, explained that Brazilian agribusiness could account for 40% of the 70% increase in agricultural productivity over the next ten years. The startup is investing in Brazil’s soil to make food more accessible. The desired goal is for the supply chain to become more sustainable and efficient.
Food insecurity is an issue that predominantly impacts low-income countries. Improving the supply chain can make a huge difference in fighting food accessibility. There are a wide variety of solutions ranging from economic improvements in farming to reforming entire industries.
– Ann Shick