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Current food crisis predictions are developed by the Famine Early Warning System Network, but they fail to classify the majority of food crisis outbreaks with model metrics of recall (0.23), precision (0.42), and f1 (0.30). In this work, using a World Bank dataset, classical and neural network (NN) machine learning algorithms were developed to predict food crises in 21 countries. The best classical logistic regression algorithm achieved a high level of significance (p < 0.001) and precision (0.75) but was deficient in recall (0.20) and f1 (0.32). Of particular interest, the classical algorithm indicated that the vegetation index and the food price index were both positively correlated with food crises. A novel method for performing an iterative multidimensional hyperparameter search is presented, which resulted in significantly improved performance when applied to this dataset. Four iterations were conducted, which resulted in excellent 0.96 for metrics of precision, recall, and f1. Due to this strong performance, the food crisis year was removed from the dataset to prevent immediate extrapolation when used on future data, and the modeling process was repeated. The best “no year” model metrics remained strong, achieving ≥0.92 for recall, precision, and f1 while meeting a 10% f1 overfitting threshold on the test (0.84) and holdout (0.83) datasets. The year-agnostic neural network model represents a novel approach to classify food crises and outperforms current food crisis prediction efforts.


© 2021 The Authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0), which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

Dr. Wagner is co-affiliated in the author credits on this article with the Perduco Group (Dayton, Ohio).

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AI (ISSN: 2673-2688)