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ASEAN ANALYSIS  20  August 2010

Where is your next meal coming from?

By David Swartzentruber
AseanAffairs   20 August 2010

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The 2010 Food Security Risk Index appeared today.

Grabbing the headlines with the largest number of countries at risk for basic food supply to the surprise of hardly anyone was sub-Saharan Africa “because of the frequency of extreme weather events, high rates of poverty and failing infrastructures, including road and telecommunications networks,

which decrease both production and distribution capacity.

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 considered "extreme risk”.

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

However, for those attuned to Asia, India, Pakistan, Myanmar, Philippines, Cambodia and Laos were all placed in the high risk category. The index, compiled by the British risk assessment firm, Maplecroft, evaluates the risks to the basic food supply in 163 countries using 12 criteria developed by the World Food Programme. China is considered a notch better at “medium risk”.

The text accompanying the index pointed out the effects that climate change is having on food crops. The extreme weather in Russia and Pakistan is expected to increase those countries food risk next year.

European countries, North America, Australia and Argentina all seem to have plenty of food. However, with a large amount of food, some countries, such as the United States, overdo it. It is estimated that 25 percent of the U.S. population is obese bringing with it all types of medical issues such as diabetes and heart disease.

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."

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