The Economic Determinants of Food Security in the MENA Region

The Economic Determinants of Food Security in the MENA Region

Ahmet Ali Koç (Department of Economics, Akdeniz University, Antalya, Turkey), Oznur Ozdamar (Aydın Faculty of Economics, Department of Econometrics, Adnan Menderes University, Efeler, Turkey) and Peyman Uysal (Department of Economics, Akdeniz University, Antalya, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/IJFBMBM.2017010101
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Abstract

This paper aims to analyse the determinants of the food insecurity examining the relationship of important economic,social and natural factors with an overall food insecurity index that derived by dividing the food imports value to the sum of total exports and the net remittance inflows. Overall analysis is made by employing panel-data methods using a dataset that covers 18MENA countries and Turkey for the period of 1990-2014.Emprical results support the evidence of the harmful effect of price increases on food security. Furthermore, significance of education related variables and fresh water withdrawals indicate that the region has had benefit from nearly 30 years investment on education and intensive water exploitation, although poor water management and great waste of irrigation will most likely have negative effects on food security in the near future.
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Introduction

Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region is a large geography that mainly consists of 18 countries1. Although these countries are different from each other regarding their economic development levels, they suffer from common environmental problems such as less amountof per capita arableland, improved water resources and their inappropriate usage which exarbatedfood insecurity. In addition to these problems, the global food price shockoccurred in 2007-2008, was the main reason of worldwide attention to the food security phenomenon, especially for the MENA Countries where food insecurity has always been very serious concern.

Food security, as defined by FAO, is the condition that exists when all people, at all times have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life1. Food security can be disscussed in twofolds: a) Macro-Level Food Security and b) Micro-Level Food Security. The first one refers to a national phenomenon which exists when a nation has enough food supply to feed its population via domestic production, food imports or some combination of both. The second one is individual food security which can be defined as accession of all individuals to the adequate amount of food. These paper aims to analyse the determinants of macro-level food security taking into account various factors at country level for 19 countries (MENA plus Turkey). Evolved from the definition, food insecuritycan exist when one of those following conditions occurs; a) when access to food is not possible as food is not physically available where and when needed, b) when economic access to food is not available as people lack money to afford it even food is physically available, c) when people have physical and economical access to food that are not safe or dietary balanced, d) when none of the above conditions holds. In other words, food insecurity problem can be caused by both demand and supply side factors.Sen (1981) emphasizes on not only the role of supply side factors of food, but also demand side factors such as individuals incomes and assets that are also crucial for ensuring food security. In light of this view, FAO hadclarified four pillars of food security which are availibility, access, utilization and stability to guide addressing the problem with its supply and demand side and form appropriate policy solutions. Table 1 shows the detailed explanations on four pillars presenting the variables that are main components of these pillars.

According to the latest data, in terms of five components of availability dimension Israel is the most food secure country in the region. In terms of access dimension, oil exporting countries rank at the top as food secure while Yemen is in the most food insecure position. Oil exporter countries such as Israel, UAE, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are the most ceral import dependent countries.

Table 1.
FAO food security indicators
DimensionsComponents
1. Availability1.1 Average dietary energy supply adequacy
1.2 Average value of food production
1.3 Share of dietary energy supply derived from cereals, roots and tubers
1.4 Average protein supply
1.5 Average supply of protein of animal origin
2. Access2.1 Percent of paved roads over total roads
2.2 Road density
2.3Rail lines density
2.4 Gross domestic product per capita (in PPP)
2.5 Domestic food price index
2.6 Prevalence of undernourishment
2.7 Share of food expenditure of the poor
2.8 Depth of the food deficit*
2.9 Prevalence of food inadequacy
3. Utilization3.1 Cereal import dependency ratio
3.2 Percent of arable land equipped for irrigation
3.3 Value of food imports over total merchandise exports
3.4 Political stability and absence of violence/terrorism
3.5 Domestic food price volatility
3.6 Per capita food production variability
3.7 Per capita food supply variability
4. Stability4.1 Access to improved water sources
4.2 Access to improved sanitation facilities
4.3 Percentage of children under 5 years of age affected by wasting
4.4 Percentage of children under 5 years of age who are stunted
4.5 Percentage of children under 5 years of age who are underweight
4.6 Percentage of adults who are underweight
4.7 Prevalence of anaemia among pregnant women
4.8 Prevalence of anaemia among children under 5 years of age
4.9 Prevalence of vitamin A deficiency in the population
4.10 Prevalence of iodine deficiency

Source: FAO, 2013

*Depth of food deficit is measured by comparing the average amount of dietary energy that undernourished people get from the foods they eat with the minimum amount of dietary energy they need to maintain body weight and undertake light activity.

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