USDA-ERS’s new International Food Security Assessment model is a demand-oriented framework that includes information on domestic prices, consumer responsiveness to changes in prices and incomes, and food quality differences by income groups. Given projections for lower food prices and rising incomes, food security for the 76 low- and middle-income countries included in this demand-oriented framework is expected to improve through 2026. The share of the population that is food insecure is projected to fall from 17 percent in 2016 to 6 percent in 2026. The number of food-insecure people is projected to fall markedly, 59 percent, to 251 million in 2026 which matches the decline in the intensity of food insecurity, at the aggregate level.
This roughly matches the decline in the distribution gap, the amount of food needed to allow all food-insecure people to reach the nutritional target of 2,100 calories per person per day. The similar rates of decline for the two measures indicates no worsening in the intensity of food insecurity, at the aggregate level, for those people considered to be food-insecure.
At the regional level, the greatest improvement in food security is projected for Asia, where the share of population food insecure falls from 13 to 2.4 percent and the number of food-insecure people falls 80 percent between 2016 and 2026. In 16 of the region’s 22 countries, less than 5 percent of the population is projected to be food insecure in 2026. The number of food insecure people in the Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region is projected to fall by half over the next decade; the share of population that is food insecure falls from 14.6 percent in 2016 to 6.4 percent in 2026. Strong gains are expected throughout the region with the sole exception of Haiti, where improvement is expected to be relatively modest.
Sub-Saharan Africa’s (SSA) food security situation is also projected to improve, but at the slowest rate of all the regions. The number of food-insecure people is projected to fall by 36 percent and the share of population that is food insecure falls from 29 to 15 percent. In 29 of the 39 countries included in this region for this study, 20 percent or less of the population is projected to be food insecure in 2026. Improvement in food security is also projected for North Africa, which is the most food secure among all the regions in the study. The share of population food insecure falls from 2 percent in 2016 to 0.6 percent in 2026.
India, the most populous country in the region, dominates Asia’s improving outlook for food security, as grain consumption jumps 33 percent due to expectations of rapid per capita income growth of 6.8 percent per year. Recent economic growth in India was bolstered by declining oil prices and government investment in infrastructure.
The most food-insecure countries in the region are North Korea, Yemen, Tajikistan, and Afghanistan. Of this group, Afghanistan, starting from a relatively food-insecure position, is projected to realize the greatest improvement: from 38 percent of the population classified as food insecure in 2016 to less than 13 percent in 2026. The improvement is driven by the downward trend (1.2 percent per year) in the price of wheat, the staple crop. In addition, per capita income is projected to increase 3.2 percent per year. North Korea, while projected to improve, will remain the most food-insecure country in the region, with 30 percent of the population consuming below the nutritional target.
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