If Africa’s smallholder farmers are going to lift themselves out of poverty, they need access to formal financial services instead of the unstable, inflexible, informal arrangements that they currently rely on and that keep them poor. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Janeen Madan review the ways in which digital technology is changing how financial services are delivered and made affordable. With the right investments and policies, farmers will be able to access credit, savings accounts, insurance, payment platforms, and other financial products that allow them to invest in their livelihoods without being exposed to exploitation or untenable risks.
To explain why ending hunger has been so hard, Peter Timmer highlights four main themes: the complex role of markets, the importance of government policies, the historical process of structural transformation, and the need to identify the appropriate time horizon for analysis and interventions. These themes are not new, but integrating them into a coherent approach to ending hunger seems to be original
Trade is a key tool to bring food security to an estimated 800 million people around the world that remain chronically undernourished. Many countries need reliable access to international markets to supplement their inadequate domestic food supplies. Better policies to make agriculture in developing countries more productive and profitable, including via exports, would also help alleviate food insecurity and reduce poverty. Stronger international trade rules would help by constraining the beggar-thy-neighbor policies that distort trade, contribute to price volatility, and discourage investments in developing-country agriculture.
Post-doctoral fellow Jenny C. Aker supports the innovation of the World Food Program's new Purchase-for-Progress initiative but argues that it might not be the panacea that others claim. She questions some of the assumptions of the P4P and cites some potential unintended consequences, especially for the thin grain markets of the Sahel. Aker provides five concrete suggestions for the WFP to consider during the pilot phase of this program.
In this essay, CGD post-doctoral fellow Jenny Aker analyzes the performance of grain markets in Niger during its 2005 food crisis, when an estimated 2.4 million people were affected by severe food shortages, to find ways to avoid future crises. She finds that local grain markets are highly responsive to national and sub-regional price shocks and suggests that local early-warning systems should monitor the impact of drought and prices in key national and sub-regional markets. This essay highlights the need for policies that account for the impact of local purchases and regional trade on food security.
CGD senior fellow Liliana Rojas-Suarez argues that the recent sharp spike in food and oil prices, above the long term upward trend, threatens Latin America’s stability and is the result of excess global liquidity and the U.S. credit mess. She says the region must fight inflation now and, going forward, insist on a greater say in setting global financial rules.