How Does Food Insecurity Affect Poverty?

These findings highlight the crucial role of the global food system in alleviating poverty and addressing food insecurity. 


Global food insecurity is a critical issue, particularly in developing countries. Families in low-income countries spend up to 45% of their income on food (compared to about 10% of household income in America). Furthermore, nearly two-thirds of low-income working adults worldwide rely on agriculture as their source of income. These findings highlight the crucial role of the global food system in alleviating poverty and addressing food insecurity. 

Rising Prices Yield Worry for Low-Income Farmers 


Almost as important as food is for families around the world, food for plants (and the prices for feeding plants) is also of great importance to farmers. Fertilizers provide nutrients for plants to grow and thrive, and the prices for fertilizers have been rising for the past few years. In Sub-Saharan Africa, fertilizer prices have tripled since early 2020. This means a stable supply of fertilizer is now out of reach for many small farmers. The conflict in Ukraine has not helped, as fertilizer exports from Belarus and Russia – crucial fertilizer suppliers for Africa – have been disrupted by the current war

In addition to rising fertilizer prices, high energy prices have raised the cost of fuel. All of this leads to increases in food production costs. Finally, rising food costs reached record prices earlier last year. This increased food insecurity and decreased the world’s capacity to pay for the necessary social protection of its most vulnerable people.

The Physical and Economic Costs of Malnutrition 

Malnutrition is defined as the lack of proper nutrition, caused by not having enough to eat, not eating enough of the right things, or being unable to use the food that one does eat.

Many overlook the fact that malnutrition not only incurs physical consequences but also has a significant economic impact. The cost of malnutrition to the global economy is estimated to be as much as $3.5 trillion annually, equating to an average of $500 per person. This highlights how malnutrition hampers a country’s economic growth by reducing the productivity of its citizens and increasing healthcare expenses.

But there is a relatively simple solution – if it can be implemented in a business-friendly way. Food fortification – the process of adding micronutrients to food – can significantly improve health and well-being in communities with high levels of malnutrition, at an average cost of just $0.15 USD per person annually in developing countries.

The Solutions to the Problem of Food Insecurity 

A group of women who are a part of Technoserve's kitchen garden program, pose for a group portrait in a kitchen garden in Bamanwali village, Bikaner, Rajasthan, India on October 24th, 2016. Non-profit organisation Technoserve works with farmer's wives in Bikaner, providing technical support and training for edible gardening, to improve the nutritional quality of their food and relieve financial stress on farming communities. Photograph by Suzanne Lee for Technoserve

Food insecurity affects poverty in a myriad of ways, but there are solutions to these problems. TechnoServe’s approach to food insecurity, which includes agriculture and food production, provides a holistic solution to the ever-greater challenge of sustainable global food security.

TechnoServe’s mission is to tackle the worldwide issue of food insecurity through comprehensive work that integrates agriculture and food production. This approach aims to provide a long-term and sustainable solution to the growing challenge of global food security.

More on Food Security 

Of the almost 700 million people who don’t get enough food, many of them are farmers. Join us as we help those who feed the world to feed themselves.