The world spends a quarter of its GDP on food imports, but it spends less than half as much on it in the poorest countries, according to a new report.
The report, published on Wednesday, comes as the UN said that food shortages in India and Nepal are worsening, as millions of people in these countries struggle to survive.
The UN says that food is the main driver of poverty in many of the poorest nations and that an increasing number of countries are now looking to cut back on imports and rely more on domestic production.
This report from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) shows that in India, China, Pakistan, Myanmar, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda, only a quarter (23%) of their annual food budget goes to food imports.
The other two thirds (74%) goes to household and non-farm purchases.
Food prices are rising across these countries and it is not surprising that the poorest people in the world are facing more food shortages, said FAO director-general Agnes Callamard.
The data from the report showed that the proportion of the country’s food budget going to imports from developed countries rose from 19% in the 1990s to 40% in 2012.
In addition, the report shows that the percentage of the food budget spent on domestic food production rose from 32% in 1992 to 52% in 2016.
The FAO report also said that the gap between rich and poor countries in the food security sector has widened dramatically in recent decades, and it was now the second-largest contributor to food inflation in the developed countries.
The number of poor people living in the developing world has increased from 6.5 billion people in 1990 to 13.7 billion in 2016, and in the wealthier countries, the figure is even higher, said Callamart.
The food shortages plaguing poor countries have also hit the agriculture sector, with farmers losing up to 10% of their crops in India.
The study found that the increase in poverty was mainly caused by the increased availability of cheap commodities such as maize, wheat and cotton, which were largely imported.
The research also found that agricultural production in India is also at risk due to the high costs of imports from developing countries.
While India has been the main beneficiary of the rising price of food imports from China and other developing countries, India is the second most affected by a lack of cheap food from the US, with a lack that has seen the price of rice rise from US$2.55 per kg to US$7.70 per kg.
“India is the world’s biggest consumer of grains and cereals, but because of the price rise and the rise in poverty, Indian farmers are being pushed to a disadvantage,” said Callumard.
“Farmers are being forced to invest in equipment and technology, but the result is that the cost of this is rising.”
The report also found a lack in agricultural technology in India because of a lack on government support.
It also said the cost to farmers of fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides was higher than in other developing economies, and that this was the reason why the prices of these products had increased.
The US, Japan, Brazil and South Africa have also suffered from an increase in food prices, while the number of people living on less than $1.25 per day has grown.
India is now the world capital of rice production and is also home to some of the world’ most important rice-producing regions.