Afghanistan and Africa topped a food security risk index

Food supplies in Afghanistan and nine sub-Saharan countries are most at risk and vulnerable to rising costs, according to research.

In all, African nations make up 36 of the 50 nations most at risk in the index.

Afghanistan (1) is rated as least secure in food supplies, whilst the African nations of the Democratic Republic of Congo (2), Burundi (3), Eritrea (4), Sudan (5), Ethiopia (6), Angola (7), Liberia (8), Chad (9) and Zimbabwe (10) are also considered “extreme risk.”, , according to the index released by risk analysis and rating firm Maplecroft.

Sub-Saharan Africa is particularly vulnerable to food insecurity because of the frequency of extreme weather events, high rates of poverty and failing infrastructures, including road and telecommunications networks.

Conflict is also a major driver of food insecurity and the ongoing violence in Afghanistan and Democratic Republic of Congo is largely responsible for the precarious food security situation in both countries.

“Russian brakes on exports, plus a reduction in Canada’s harvest by almost a quarter due to flooding in June, are provoking fluctuations in the commodity markets. This will further affect the food security of the most vulnerable countries” said Fiona Place, Environmental Analyst at Maplecroft.

Professor Alyson Warhurst, CEO of Maplecroft, adds: “Food security is a critical geopolitical issue and an important factor for investors concerned with sovereign risk, food and agricultural business with respect to supply chain integrity and foreign direct investments. The world will now look to China (96) as one of the biggest storage countries; however, food consumption there is on the increase and surpluses are not quantified. Traders report 200m tones are held in reserve globally – an improvement on 2008; but, this is no comfort for countries such as Haiti and Pakistan, which are heavily dependent on food aid.”

Climate change is having a profound effect on global food security. The heat wave in Russia (115 and medium risk) has come at the same time as devastating floods in Pakistan, which will have long term effects on the country’s food security situation. Pakistan is currently ranked 30th and “high risk” in the index, with security, double digit inflation, high food prices and poverty playing a large part in the country’s ranking.

Overall country risk can mask the very acute risks in regions such as Punjab and Sindh province, said the researchers.