PHL trails Asian peers in Global Food Security Index

THE Philippines ranked 67th in the Global Food Security Index (GFSI) 2022, trailing behind half of its Asian peers as the country scored low in terms of food availability and adaptability to the impacts of climate change.

The GFSI index showed that the Philippines, which had an overall food security score of 59.3, placed 67th out of 113 countries included in the index by Economist Impact and Corteva Science.

In the Asia-Pacific region, the Philippines ranked 13th out of 23 countries, behind Azerbaijan and Thailand. The GFSI index showed that the Philippines had a better food security score than India (58.9), which placed 14th, and three Southeast Asian neighbors—Myanmar (57.6), Cambodia (55.7) and Laos (53.1).

The GFSI index measures four aspects of a country’s food security, namely, food affordability, availability, quality and safety, and sustainability and adaptation.

The Philippines scored 71.5 in terms of food affordability, 55.2 in terms of availability, 65.3 in terms of quality and safety and 41.8 in terms of sustainability and adaptation.

“The country performs best in Affordability, owing to steady consumer prices, a low proportion of the population under the poverty line, relative ease of agricultural trade and a good food safety-net programme,” the GFSI report, which was published recently, said.

“The country’s weakest performance is in the Sustainability and Adaptation category, with its ’weak’ score of 41.8 due to exposure risks to the agricultural water supply, land deterioration and threats to marine biodiversity,” it added.

The GFSI pointed out that the Philippines “needs” to strengthen its sustainability and adaptation policies “to protect the agricultural sector and natural resources from the negative impacts of climate change.”

“The Philippines has implemented environmental-economic accounting measures and adopted disaster risk reduction strategies at the national and local level. However, despite these significant improvements, the overall category score is still considered ’weak,’” it said.

“The country must make greater efforts to improve scores on all indicators and sub-indicators in the Sustainability and Adaptation pillar, particularly those focused on protecting natural resources,” it added.

The report indicated that the Philippines’s strengths lie in ensuring farmers’ access to agricultural inputs and in establishing a foundation of strong farm infrastructure. Furthermore, the country has “strong” nutritional standards that help consumers, according to the report.

The country’s highest score was in food affordability as it had “good” to “very good” scores in change in average food scores, proportion of population under the global poverty line, agricultural and food safety-net programs. A score of 70 to 79.9 is considered good while a score of 80 to 100 is very good.

The Philippines scored 74 in change in average food costs, 82.7 in proportion of population under global poverty line, 49.8 in inequality-adjusted income index, 74.7 in agricultural trade, and 73.2 in food safety net programs.

“Price consistency on the consumer side and ease of trade enables food to remain affordable,” the report said.

However, the report emphasized that the Philippines lags behind in terms of agricultural research and development. The report also pointed out that the country has “excessive dependency on food aid.”

The Philippines ranked 81st globally in terms of agricultural research and development but still falls in the “very weak” score bracket or a score range of 0 to 39.9 owing to declining budget for research and development.

“This is because the country’s public spending on research and development has steadily declined since the beginning  of the reporting period. In addition, access to agricultural technology, education and resources is low,” the report said.

Image credits: Nonie Reyes