The leading consultant of The Economist Intelligence Unit stated: “If we are trying to eradicate famine, then we’ve chosen the wrong path”. Though, the food security issues are faced not only by countries with the starving population. Even in relatively well-off states, this problem requires constant monitoring.

Which countries achieved progress in solving these issues? Which place does Ukraine occupy among them? Is our state capable of feeding its population even under toughest conditions? Finally, which challenges and perspectives do we face?  

Food security is the country’s capacity to ensure its population with access to qualitative food

This question should be considered in two dimensions: as a state’s obligation and as an element of the national security.

According to the Rome Declaration on World Food Security every country has to ensure the right of its population for the adequate nutrition. This document includes the following food security components: physical and financial accessibility, food sovereignty, resistance to seasonal and weather shocks as well as sustainability of agricultural production growth.

National security is another dimension of this issue which requires the implementation of the comprehensive state policy in the agricultural sphere, creation of favorable conditions for the development of agricultural industry and of the infrastructure, etc.

Though, countries’ capacities in this range significantly.

Food security index – an effective way of assessing the country’s potential

Several factors influence the food security of the country: production volumes, weather conditions, geographical location and others, including even corruption. Taking the aforementioned into the account, calculation of the food security index requires simultaneous consideration of various parameters on which the rating is based.

In 2012 The Economist Intelligence Unit introduced the Global Food Security Index which until recently consisted of three main parameters: quality, safety, financial and physical accessibility of food. Last year the fourth parameter was added – natural resources and sustainability. This change in the methodology is explained by the fact that in 2017 the deterioration of food security situation was observed for the first time within last 5 years. Besides traditional risks, such issues as global warming and unfavorable weather conditions are becoming more and more impactful. The USA withdrawal from the Paris Agreement further increased negative expectations associated with climate changes. Furthermore, currently, the global increase of political instability is observed. Thus, starting from 2017 a decision was made to publish two versions of the Index: average food security rating based on three parameters as well as adjusted one which includes the fourth parameter – impact of natural factors.    

Ireland, Austria, and France are leaders in food security  

If to compare the general rating with an adjusted one which takes into the account the impact of environmental factors, one observe the substantial influence of these factors on the food security of any state.

Austria is the most astonishing example in this regard. Due to favorable climate conditions, it was ranked second, having displaced the USA to the fourth place. The same is observed in France.

These are top 3 countries in the rating where natural resources are taken into the account: Ireland, Austria, and France. These states have favorable weather conditions; their products are qualitative, safe, financially and physically accessible.  

All three countries have high living standards and provide their population with an opportunity to consume qualitative, and what is crucial – diverse food. Furthermore, these countries have advanced food security standards in place. Local suppliers there are widely supported by the government and have an access to cheap loans which enable them not to only meet the demand of the local market but export their products abroad.

Ukraine is ranked 63rd in the world

food safety

In the general rating with consideration of weather conditions, Ukraine was ranked 63rd among 113 countries, having scored 54,1 points.

Relatively low percentage of people living below the global poverty line, the safety of food products, low level of food loss, moderate agricultural import fees, production volatility as well as the availability of food security programs are among major advantages of our country.

Major challenges for our country are the following: high level of corruption, low gross GDP per capita, scarce financing R&D in the agricultural sector, as well as high risk of political instability. Furthermore, unlike developed countries, Ukrainian farmers face issues with access to cheap loans.

The economic situation negatively impacts the food security in Ukraine

According to the Global Index, the major negative impact on food security of Ukraine is produced by factors which are not purely agricultural and are mostly related to the general economic situation: high level of corruption, expensive loans, and political instability. Thus, the situation can be improved through measures related to amelioration of the Ukrainian economy in general. A certain progress in this regard has already been observed: during last several years the national economy is slowly growing and the agricultural sector remains the key driver of this trend. Though, the current pace of the economic development is still very slow considering country’s high potential in the sphere of agriculture. Further positive changes require more consistent approaches to fighting against corruption, protection of investors’ rights as well as an increase of the population’s welfare. Concrete measures include but are not limited to boost in private and state financing of innovative projects in the sphere of agriculture, as well as the liberalization of the agricultural lands’ market.

Food security is tightly connected practically with all aspects of the state functioning: from the defense policy and emergency response preparedness to the long-term development perspectives. Though, the main its link is with the quality of our life. There is no exaggeration in saying that the future of millions of people is hidden behind these charts and data. Nutritious and diverse alimentation means health and thus happiness and long years of life for everyone. Financial accessibility is the possibility to spend money not only on food but on the coverage of other needs: clothing, medicines, recreation, and education. It improves the purchasing power of families, and thus increases the demand for non-food items.    

Finally, the effective solutions to food security issues are the prerequisite of future generations’ prosperity.