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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.

 

Can Food Aid Help Feed the Future?

The Partnership to Cut Hunger and Poverty in Africa held an event on Capitol Hill on Friday to launch an excellent report by Stephanie Mercier, a former Senate Ag Committee staffer. I had the pleasure of serving as a discussant.  Though the report title focuses on food aid and the next farm bill, the report also covers the evolution of U.S. food aid and the modest but important improvements that were made in the 2008 farm bill.

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.

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.

GAO Report Highlights Costs of U.S. Food Aid Restrictions

This post originally appeared on the Huffington Post on June 5, 2009.

According to a testimony before congress yesterday and a new Government Accountability Office report, congressional restrictions on U.S. food aid raise the costs of delivering it by as much as a third and delay it reaching hungry people by up to 100 days. When donors purchase food locally or regionally, it not only gets to needy people faster and more cheaply, it may also better match local preferences and nutrition needs. Yet, in the midst of last year’s global food price crisis, Congress passed a farm bill that continued the long-standing practice of requiring that food aid be purchased in the United States and that 75 percent of it be delivered by U.S.-flagged ships.

Food Aid, With a Twist

This is a joint posting with Rebecca Schutte
Is purchasing food aid locally the answer to higher global food prices and the inefficiencies associated with imported food aid? The World Food Program (WFP), the Bill and Melinda Gates and Howard G. Buffett Foundations seem to think so. While donors and international organizations have been purchasing food aid in recipient countries for years, the idea got a new boost in late September with the "Purchase for Progress (P4P)" initiative. The idea is simple: Rather than import food aid from the U.S. or Europe, WFP will purchase food commodities for distribution within the same country or region. As Josette Sheeran, WFP executive director, explained, "Purchase for Progress is a win-win -- we help our beneficiaries who have little or no food and we help local farmers who have little or no access to markets where they can sell their crops." The program will be piloted in twenty-one countries in 2008/2009, fourteen of which are in sub-Saharan Africa.

What Happened to Japan's Rice Pledge?

Earlier this year, with the food crisis in the daily headlines, the world's leaders made promises -- first in Rome at an FAO gathering in June and then at the G-8 summit in Japan the following month -- to make a concerted effort to provide relief for the world's poor.

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