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By 2029, Food Security is Projected to Improve in 76 Low- and Middle-Income Countries

Posted by Birgit Meade, Market and Trade Economics Division, Economic Research Service in Research and Science
Aug 20, 2019

In 2019, 19.3 percent of the 3.8 billion people in 76 low- and middle-income countries are projected to be food insecure, meaning they do not have access to sufficient food for an active and healthy lifestyle. By 2029, their food security situation is projected to improve, leaving 9.2 percent food insecure (assuming rising per-capita incomes, stable or declining food prices, and no new major crises).

USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) recently released the annual International Food Security Assessment 2019-2029, in which they assess the food security status and outlook for 76 low- and middle-income countries that are former or current food aid recipients. This report presents the number of food-insecure people, the share of the population that is food insecure, and the food gap projected for 2019 and 2029 based on projected food price and income changes. The ERS food security indicators are forward-looking and provide a measure of expected progress in food security.

The share of populations experiencing food insecurity is not spread evenly across the regions and countries included in the study. Projections of food insecurity in the 22 Asian and 11 Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) countries show it is relatively low at 13.9 and 17.4 percent compared to Sub-Saharan Africa’s (SSA) 35.3 percent. This regional disparity is projected to widen by 2029. Sub-Saharan Africa, while expected to improve, is still projected to have 22.5 percent of its population classified as food insecure.

The share of populations that are food insecure is projected to improve, but with widening regional disparity across the four regions studied

Food-insecure share of population chart
Projections for 76 low- and middle-income countries show that food insecure people in 2019 is relatively low in Asia (13.9 percent) and Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) (17.4 percent) compared to 35.3 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). This disparity is projected to widen into 2029 when Sub-Saharan Africa is projected to improve but still have 22.5 percent of its population classified as food insecure. Photo credit: USDA, Economic Research Service based on results from the International Food Security Assessment model

Several countries are projected to not make significant progress in their food security situation. For these countries, income growth prospects are poor, and food prices are expected to remain relatively high due to ongoing armed conflicts or recent devastation from natural disasters, which tend to displace a large portion of the population and disrupt economic and agricultural activities. This results in limited access to food and increased food insecurity. For example, most of Yemen remains food insecure, and repeated port closures hinder food imports. Over half the populations in Central Africa and parts of East Africa are projected to be food insecure in 2029, following years of civil conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic.

For more information, please see the report, International Food Security Assessment 2019-2029 and more at www.ers.usda.gov.

Category/Topic: Research and Science

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