Tracking Global Food Security in 2017: Where is the Philippines?

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Rolando T. Dy

M. A. P. Insights

Tracking Global Food Security in 2017: Where is the Philippines?

The Global Food Security Index (GFSI), developed by The Economist [Magazine’s] Intelligence Unit with sponsorship from DuPont, is a universal benchmarking tool on food security.

It examines the core issues of food affordability, availability, quality and safety, as well as natural resources and resilience in 113 countries. It is based on 26 unique indicators that measure these drivers of food security across both developing and developed countries.

“This index is the first to examine food security comprehensively across the three internationally established dimensions. Moreover, the study looks beyond hunger to the underlying factors affecting food insecurity. This year the GFSI includes an adjustment factor on natural resources and resilience.”

“This new category assesses a country’s exposure to the impacts of a changing climate; its susceptibility to natural resource risks; and how the country is adapting to these risks.” The GFSI is available at no charge online at (see Table 1).

GFSI table 1

GFSI table 2

How does the Philippines compare with the ASEAN neighbors?

Singapore is the runaway winner (Global Rank: 19), followed by Malaysia (43). Rice exporters are at lower tiers: Thailand (53), Vietnam (64), Cambodia (84), and Myanmar (80). Rice importers’ ranks, excluding Singapore and Malaysia, are: Indonesia (73) and the Philippines (79). ASEAN countries with high GFSI are ahead in affordability, availability, and quality and safety criteria.

Singapore posted the highest per capita income at $73,168, distantly followed by Malaysia with $9,503 in 2016. Indonesia has $3,570, the Philippines $2,951, and Vietnam, $2,186. The two leaders had little (if no) poverty. Malaysia’s poverty incidence was only 1.6% in 2014 versus 21.6% for the Philippines in 2015.

Rice importers Singapore and Malaysia beat rice exporters Vietnam and Thailand by a mile. The index has several factors of which supply sufficiency is only one of six. The Philippines is even ahead of Cambodia, a rice exporter.

The level of development of a country affects the quality and safety criteria. Singapore and Malaysia are far ahead. Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines are in the middle cluster.

The 2017 GFSI includes “a new environmental criteria that recognizes the growing emphasis on resource conservation, climate change adaption, and sustainable agriculture practices. With factors, such as temperature change, land deforestation, and depletion of water resources, the NRR category measures future impacts on the countries in the GFSI.” (To read the report, please visit the link or use a smartphone to scan the QR code.)

foodThe worse off countries in terms of NRR are: Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Vietnam. In better positions are Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, and Cambodia.

Overall, how did the Philippines fare? It ranked sixth among the nine rated ASEAN countries. By criteria, it was below median at 7th among nine countries in affordability, availability as well as NRR, and 5th in quality and safety.

Where will the Philippines go from here?

Under the Philippine Development Plan, 2017-2022, several factors need watching: (a) growth in GDP, (b) reduction of national poverty to 14% in 2022 from 21.6% in 2015,(c) reduction of rural poverty to20% in 2022 from 30% in 2015, (d) growth of agriculture of 2.5 to 3% a year, and (e) climate change adaptation programs.

This article reflects the personal opinion of the author and does not reflect the official stand of the Management Association of the Philippines or the M.A.P.


Rolando T. Dy is the Vice-Chair of the M.A.P. AgriBusiness and Countryside Development Committee, and the Executive Director of the Center for Food and AgriBusiness of the University of Asia & the Pacific.