Exploration of Food Security Challenges towards More Sustainable Food Production: A Systematic Literature Review of the Major Drivers and Policies

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Food security is a central priority for international policy as one of the world’s most significantly urgent targets to achieve. It is considered one of the most pressing issues in many countries, the degree of food security representing the level of self-sufficiency and well-being of citizens. In particular, in the current COVID-19 pandemic era, it has more than ever become a mission-critical goal. In this research, we report on the food security drivers and the current state of recommended policies addressing chronic food insecurity aimed at ensuring the sustainability of future food production. Mapping the determinants of food security contributes to a better understanding of the issue and aids in the development of appropriate food security policies and strategies to enhance the sustainability of food production in all facets; namely environmental, social, and economic. Adopting the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) data screening and selection guidelines and standards, we carried out a comprehensive, reliable, systematic, and rigorous review of research from the last ten years in order to identify the most frequently mentioned drivers and policies of food security in the literature available in two databases: Scopus and Web of Science (WOS). The number of extracted articles was 141 papers in total. An analysis revealed 34 drivers of food security and 17 most recommended policies for the mitigation of food insecurity. The existence of food loss and waste (FLW) policies was the primary driver of food security, followed by food security policies (FSP) in their different forms. However, FSP were the most recommended policies, followed by FLW policies. The identified food security drivers and recommended policies should be used by policy-makers to improve food security, thus contributing to sustainable food production. Our research findings, reflected in the latest version of the Global Food Security Index (GFSI), resulted in more tangible policy implications, suggesting the addition of two dimensions regarding food security. We also identified elements not listed under the GFSI that could be considered in its future revision, including environmental policies/indicators, consumer representation, and traceability throughout the entire supply chain. Overall, it can be concluded that food security is a complicated and multi-faceted issue that cannot be restricted to a single variable, necessitating the deeper integration of various multi-disciplinary interventions.

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