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Warwick Professor Wants Global Food Security Action

Haiti and African nations most at risk, while drought in India could disrupt markets worldwide

Warwick Business School professor Alyson Warhurst is keen to see the world’s public and private sectors working together to help populations whose food security is under threat.

Warhurst is founding director of social enterprise and advisory firm Maplecroft, which publishes a world Food Security Risk Index (FSRI).


Warwick Business School professor Alyson Warhurst is also founding director of social enterprise and advisory firm Maplecroft

The index quantifies the risk to stable supply of basic food in 148 countries. Key indicators used to compile the index include food availability in a country, accessibility of food and stability of supply, as well as the current nutritional and health status of the population.

The concept of food security was originally developed by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO): “FSRI provides a multifaceted approach to food security analysis by assessing the range of key elements in country risk,” says Warhurst.

Of the five countries whose food security is most at risk, four are in Africa: Angola, Mozambique, Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo.

According to Warhurst, the highest-risk countries are characterized by poor governance.

In oil-rich Angola, for example, a 27-year civil war has made millions homeless, brought food supplies to a standstill and destroyed the country’s infrastructure.

Three people from the Togo football team were recently killed in a shooting at an African Cup of Nations football match there.

Similar problems of conflict, displaced people and collapsing infrastructure beset Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo, but the defining factor for Mozambique is its “vulnerability to weather-related natural hazards”.

Following Haiti’s disastrous earthquake, the Caribbean island is the second-most at risk country in the world for food security.

Warhurst says Haiti’s extreme poverty – the country relies on aid for 48 per cent of its food – alongside its long-lasting socio-political instability are the main reasons.

The world’s two biggest emerging economies tell different stories: India is in the “high risk” category in Maplecroft’s FSRI, while China falls under “medium risk”.

Warhurst says a reduction in India’s water resources, caused by deforestation and an uneven monsoon in July 2009, is the main problem.

Two-thirds of India’s 1.1 billion inhabitants rely on farming as their main income source, but 21 per cent less land was under cultivation in August 2009 than in the preceding year.

“The resulting reduction in crop yields is likely to inject inflationary pressure into the economy,” says Warhurst.

India will face a serious food crisis if it is hit by another drought come next monsoon season, which could affect food prices worldwide: “If Asian governments impose export restrictions on food in 2010 to safeguard their food security, it could conceivably trigger panic buying which would in turn squeeze supplies and raise food prices even more across the world,” she says.

China, in contrast, is better placed to cope manage its food security than India. Though 80 per cent of the country’s population still relies on farming, food self-sufficiency and avoiding fluctuations in supply and price have long been the Chinese government’s priorities.

But China’s trend of buying large tranches of arable land in Africa in recent years raises concerns from Warhurst.

“According to the World Food Program, the main causes of hunger are natural hazards, war, poverty… Each cause could potentially be exacerbated by land grabbing,” she says.

The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)’s “Code of Conduct” has outlined rules for foreign investors seeking to acquire overseas land.

The code is set up to ensure transparency in negotiations, respect for customer and common land rights, and to monitor the affect of land acquisition on environmental sustainability.

The systems developed nations use to help world food distribution have many flaws, according to Warhurst: “Currently, U.S policy on food aid states that money allocated to food aid must be spent on food grown in the US, that at least half the food must be packed in the US and most of it must be transported in US ships.

“In 2009, US food aid shipped to 10 different Sub-Saharan African countries costs 34 per cent more than food bought locally and regionally,” she continues.

Warhurst suggests the using cheaper ways to transport the food to its destination: “It will allow more money to be spent on aid and less on logistics,” she says. 

Student Reviews

Warwick Business School




On Campus

BSc Management with Marketing

I loved Warwick business school. The staff is supportive, my academic tutor was key in my development throughout the 3 years and you have to meet with her/him every term. Most professors are helpful and would happily offer support if needed. You also have office hours and can contact professors by email and through the forum. In general, WBS instills in you the willingness to learn and the resilience needed for you for whatever career you choose. Very international community which broadens your horizon and makes you more open minded and self aware. You will most certainly make friends and memories for life. I recommend that you get outside of your comfort zone and try new activities with your friends! WBS also has a great reputation and offers careers opportunities, and careers support throughout the degree. There is the opportunity to do a year abroad to further develop on a personal level. I wasn’t able to do this due to Covid but I would have loved to do it during normal circumstances! Would definitely recommend this. Although Warwick is not a city university, the campus vibe has a lot of advantages, especially at an undergraduate level. You are always around familiar faces, and in a student environment. Moreover, Birmingham is only 20 mins away from Leamington spa and London is only one hour away! Perfect for a day trip or a weekend getaway!




On Campus

Life at Warwick Business School

Pursuing my master's degree at WBS has been a game-changer in my life. With high-quality education, interaction with students from across the world, amazing campus life and much more. I was able to learn about business, finance, project management and strategy all in one course: MSc in Management at WBS. Besides the top-notch education from the best professors, I also enjoyed being a part of fun societies and participating in fun activities such as scavenger hunts and so much more. The school also organises many company visits and interactions which help students get a head start at finding a job. As my course came to an end, I also have a good full-time job placement in my hands. Overall, my experience at WBS was a great one.






The Warwick Business School was like a dream come to life for me. The University ranking speaks for itself, from top-tier facilities to some of the best professors I had to honour to study with I fell in love with my course. Interactions with people from all over the world gave me a newfound confidence in myself. Career prospects after graduating are endless due to the contacts of the universities and the success rate for previous students, it does open a lot of doors for students in various career fields. The campus life is quite good as well with a lot of student groups and clubs, and extra circular activities to engage students at all times. Loved my experience.




On Campus

A good business school

It is a very cutting-edge, career-oriented business school, all courses are very practical, and the college does a very good job of career service. From the hardware and facilities to the staff, the student experience is at the core of the school and student satisfaction is taken very seriously. I understand that many universities in the UK are relatively traditional and can occasionally be rigid in terms of rules and regulations, and although WBS has a relatively short history, this makes it more innovative and dynamic, which is essential for a business school. The downside is that because it is on the outskirts of Coventry, it is a long bus ride to the city centre, not to mention the difference in experience from a big city like London.




On Campus


The people, campus, staff. It’s a very enjoyable environment and it’s particularly good for learning and playing sports. The people there are extremely friendly and welcoming and it’s very easy to make friends




What I Like About Warwick

I’ve personally liked my experience at Warwick so far because of the amazing people I’ve gotten to meet and how many opportunities we students are provided with to learn and grow. Within Warwick, I’m part of the Business School, a learning haven comprised of well-structured modules and extremely helpful people All in all, a great place to be :)




Campus Life

One thing that stood out for me was the campus life, you felt like part of a community. The social aspects of the student union and on-campus accommodation meant you can easily get together and enjoy with friends. Additionally, I felt the course provided a variety of subjects allowing me to enhance my knowledge, from Marketing to Law and Finance. Overall I would most definitely recommend this university to friends and family.




Excellence self catered

The campus is very welcoming and Modern. There are many opportunities at Warwick but it is up to the student how do they want to make the most out of it and the staff at the school will definitely helo as much as possible. The location and the ranking have been amazing.




Warwick business school

Warwick business school is one of the best universities around the globe with a solid base of economic and business studies. Moreover, students get a chance to study in a diverse and warm environment with professional stuff which tries to provide the best opportunities for career development. One of the memorable features of the university are great events which sometimes take a place in one of the landmarks of the London city, the Shard building.