What is Food Security?
Food Security, as defined by the United Nations’ Committee on World Food Security, is “the condition in which all people, at all times, have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food, that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life”.
Food security entails four important dimensions:
Availability: The physical availability of sufficient quantities of food of appropriate quality that is supplied through domestic production or imports (including food aid).
Access: Access by individuals to adequate resources for acquiring appropriate foods for a nutritious diet.
Utilisation: Utilisation of food through an adequate diet and nutrition, clean water, sanitation and healthcare to reach a state of nutritional well-being where all physiological needs are met.
Stability: Access of a population, household or individual to adequate food at all times. Access to food should not be lost as a consequence of sudden shocks (e.g. an economic or climatic crisis) or cyclical events (e.g. seasonal food insecurity).
Global Food Security ChallengesOver 800 million people worldwide are chronically hungry: The resilience of the global food system is being tested by the rise in demand and slow-down in food supply. In effect, we are witnessing an expanding global ‘food gap’, driven by a number of factors including:
Global Food Security ChallengesLarger and more affluent populations: With the global population growing, total food demand is expected to rise by 35-50% by 2030. Additionally, with populations becoming more affluent worldwide, middle-class per capita food consumption is projected to increase by 16% by 2030.
Global Food Security ChallengesRapid urbanisation: By 2050, 70% of global populations will live in cities. A lack of temperature-controlled supply chains is a key challenge in these rising demand centres as it exacerbates food loss and waste. In fact, currently one-third of global food production is lost or wasted.
Global Food Security ChallengesStagnating agricultural productivity: While agricultural productivity continues to grow moderately, it is being hampered by climate change, degradation of natural resources, loss of biodiversity, and the spread of pests and diseases.
Global Food Security ChallengesIntensifying water-energy-food nexus: With agriculture currently accounting for 70% of global water use and 25% of energy consumption, traditional farming continues to put heavy demands on scarce natural resources.
The UAE and Food Security
The UAE faces significant challenges to producing food domestically. Only 0.5% of the land mass is arable, extreme heat limits the capacity to cultivate and store food, and the country receives very minimal rainfall. As a result, the UAE currently imports roughly 90% of its food supplies.