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Views from the Center

CGD experts offer ideas and analysis to improve international development policy. Also check out our Global Health blog and US Development Policy blog.

 

Still Time to Prevent Another Food Price Crisis—and the One after That?

This is a joint post with Vijaya Ramachandran.

The UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) recently reported that the December 2010 Food Price Index surpassed the peak reached in June 2008. A closer examination of the data, however, provides some modest hope that the worst effects of the 2007-08 price spikes can be avoided, with luck and better policies.

First, it is important to note that only two of the five components of the Food Price Index were above 2008 levels—meat (slightly above) and sugar (more than twice as high). Second, as shown in the chart below, staple grain prices, which are key to preventing hunger among the poor, are increasing sharply, while rice and, to a lesser degree, wheat remain well below their 2008 peaks. Maize is the exception, thanks in part to U.S. policies supporting corn-based ethanol that bring to mind the zombies populating popular culture—they just won’t die!

World Food Program Finance Innovation Could Cut Hunger

This is a joint post with Owen McCarthy.

At the next meeting of its Executive Board in Rome on November 8, the management of the World Food Programme (WFP) will propose an expanded financing facility to the tune of $557 million to fund advance purchases of food. This is a welcome news that has the potential to cut hunger, by stretching WFP dollars and speeding deliveries.

The Mozambican Riots: Food for Thought

This is a joint posting with Rebecca Schutte.

Last week’s deadly unrest in Mozambique became a global news story, as clashes between security forces and people protesting rising food prices in the capital, Maputo, left at least ten people dead and more than 400 people injured. CGD Non-Resident Fellow Chris Blattman explained his skepticism about such riots, questioning why many were blaming climate change and higher international grain prices for domestic unrest. Rather, he pointed to poor domestic policies and alarmist journalism and “yearned for real information” about the root causes of the riots this weeks. Having recently returned from Mozambique, here are some additional insights on the food riots.

GAFSP! U.S.-Led Food Security Fund Could Push Better Risk Management at World Food Program, Reducing Hunger

An illustrious lineup was on hand today at the U.S. Treasury for the launch of the somewhat awkwardly named Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP), a multidonor trust fund that the global leaders promised to create at the G-20 Summit in Pittsburgh last September. The new fund’s goal: to help countries reduce poverty and hunger by increasing investments in agriculture, particularly amongst smallholder farmers. Speakers included U.S.

How the World Food Program Can Feed More People More Quickly with Better Risk Management Tools

The World Food Programme feeds almost 100 million people around the world. It has a world class logistical capability but its financial risk management capacity is extremely limited. In a new paper coauthored with Benjamin Leo and Owen McCarthy, I argue that the World Food Programme must be empowered to actively manage price risk, using financial markets to feed more people in a timely manner.

Agricultural Innovation for Food Security: Seeking Comments on Draft Policy Proposal

Feeding three billion additional people over the next four decades and improving food security for one billion people who are currently hungry or malnourished—all in an era of worsening land and water scarcity, climate change, and declining crop yields—is a dire challenge. Meeting it will require a giant leap in agricultural innovation in developing countries, similar to the 1960s Green Revolution. You can help to design the solution.

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