Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

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.

 

Popping the Rice Price Bubble

In India, the price of onions is an election issue, so ubiquitous are they in the nation’s cooking. Regularly, around the world, poor consumers face extra hardship as the prices of basic foodstuffs seesaw. Global food security is an area CGD has worked on for many years, and back in mid-2008, we tried to help figure out a solution to the skyrocketing price of a major staple.

Is Agribusiness the Key to Africa’s Growth?

Today, the World Bank launched a new report, "Growing Africa: Unlocking the Potential of Agribusiness." The report argues that agriculture and agribusiness should be at the top of the development and business agenda in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Bank is right to emphasize this issue--of the $25 billion of food that African countries import annually, only $1 billion comes from other African countries. The report offers a clear and well-researched exposition of the state and prospects of African agribusiness. It is broad in scope, encompassing agricultural production and upstream input markets as well as supply chains and agro-processing.

Hunger in Haiti in the Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy

Two months ago, Hurricane Sandy swept through Haiti, bringing winds and heavy rain that wiped away buildings, roads, crops, livestock, and fishing boats. By the time the extent of the damage and the humanitarian needs were understood, Americans had their attention fixed almost entirely on New York and New Jersey, not the Caribbean.

FAO's New (and Lower) Estimates of Hunger

This post is joint with Casey Friedman

The Food and Agriculture Organization’s flagship hunger report came out Monday, featuring a new and improved methodology for estimating the number of undernourished people in the world, and it has two big, good surprises, though there are still hundreds of millions of consistently underfed people.

ONE Campaign Reminds the G-8 That Food Security Must Be a Top Priority

This is a joint post with Julie Walz.

Just ahead of the G8 summit on May 19 at Camp David, a new report by the ONE Campaign highlights the opportunity to focus on real and sustained investments in African agriculture that could impact the lives of millions. The report includes very timely recommendations for the heads of the G-8 and other world leaders:

Tough Love: Bill Gates Calls on the Donor Community to Do Better on Food Security

This is a joint post with Peter Timmer and Julie Walz.

“If you care about the poorest, you care about agriculture,” declared Bill Gates in a high-profile speech in Rome yesterday, at a meeting of the Global Council of the International Fund for Agricultural Development. IFAD is one of the three Rome-based UN food agencies; the other two are FAO, and WFP. The speech came after the announcement of an expanded partnership between the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and IFAD, which will focus on improving food security and rural livelihoods in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

G-20 Endorses World Food Programme Hedging

This post is co-authored by Vijaya Ramachandran

Last week, the G-20 agriculture ministers meeting in Paris issued a communiqué calling for the World Food Programme to develop hedging strategies to purchase food. In a little-noticed section towards the end of a 24-page document, the ministers stated:

We invite the multilateral, regional and national development banks or agencies to further explore, in connection with the private sector as appropriate:

Development of hedging strategies that could help international humanitarian agencies, in particular WFP, to optimize food procurements and maximize the purchasing power of financial resources, building upon forward purchase… (Annex 5)

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.

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