Sub-Saharan Africa showed the most progress last year in terms of food security, driven primarily by improvements in political stability and economic growth – and despite a food-insecure environment.This is one of the Africa-related findings from the 2014 Global Food Security Index (GFSI), released by DuPont and the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) at the International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA) and Corporate Council on Africa Agribusiness and Food World Forum held last week in Cape Town.

This year, the Index demonstrated that every region improved from the prior year, with the most progress in sub-Saharan Africa countries.

The 2014 Global Food Security Index report showed 70% of countries in the study increased their food security scores over the previous year. The 2014 Index measures 109 countries against 28 food security indicators that monitor the ongoing impact of agriculture investments, collaborations and policies around the world. The Index also examines how two new factors, obesity and food loss, affect access to safe, nutritious and affordable food.

During her comments at the IFAMA Forum, Pamela Chitenhe, DuPont Pioneer Africa regional director, discussed the challenge of food security.

“The need to recruit young people to pursue careers as farmers, agronomists, scientists and ag-entrepreneurs is linked directly to Africa’s food security and long term development.

“At DuPont, we recognize the critical role youth play in food security and harness our global science capabilities and resources to help young people build the skill and will to address food security,” says Chitenhe.

DuPont believes that there is a science to feeding the world. “Science is universal, but solutions are local. Although science provides universal answers, solutions must be local, due to variations in climate, soils, cultural traditions, transportation and distribution infrastructure. We should employ youth at different levels: in business and in rural communities to find local solutions,” adds Chitenhe.

In the Index, sub-Saharan Africa scores on food security were still very low but improved more in this region than any other. Although the improvement in noticeable, low average incomes, widespread poverty and a heavy reliance on costly food imports prevents the region from achieving its food goals.

Although sub-Saharan Africa has experienced record-high economic growth rates over the past five years, it remains by far the poorest region of the world. According to the World Bank, 18 countries (almost 65% of the sub-Saharan African countries included in the GFSI) are classified as low-income countries, and an estimated 50% of the population continues to live on less than $1.25 (weighted at purchasing power parity – PPP – rates) per day.

In the Index, southern Africa, led by South Africa, has the highest overall food security score, reflecting higher income levels and relatively more developed farming sectors than in other areas of SSA.