South Africa’s food security ranking has improved three places to 44th out of 113 countries, and the country ranks now first on the African continent.
This is according to the Global Food Security Index (GFSI) developed by the Economist Intelligence Unit. Food security – the state in which people have access to enough nutritious food to meet their dietary needs for a healthy life – is measured across three pillars. These are affordability, availability and quality and safety. A new category, natural resources and resilience, was introduced this year. It looks specifically at a country’s exposure to climate change, and natural resources risks to food security.
South Africa is one of a few countries that improved its performance, while for the first time in five years global performance dropped. Contributors to the poor global performance include decreasing public sector investments, worsening political instability, escalating climate change and increasing migration. More than 60% of countries recorded a drop in their scores. South Africa performed particularly well, despite last year’s drought. During the drought the country managed to produce half of its requirements, recording a record grain harvest for 2016/17, said Paul Makube, agricultural economist at FNB.
South Africa’s score improved by 0.2 of a point to 64 out of 100. Its score for affordability rose 1.3 points to 62.7. There was no change to the quality and safety score of 59.7 but the score for availability dropped 0.7 points to 66.8. In terms of natural resources and resilience, South Africa scored 57.7 compared to a global average score of 62.6. Among South Africa’s strengths are its food safety net programmes. According to the report, these are public initiatives that protect the poor from food-related shocks. Other strengths include nutritional standards, which include national nutrition plans, dietary guidelines and nutritional monitoring.