Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity



December 12, 2008

Rainfall Shocks, Markets, and Food Crises: Evidence from the Sahel - Working Paper 157

Post-doctoral fellow Jenny Aker assesses the impact of weather shocks on grain markets in Niger. Droughts and crop failures occurred in Niger in both 2000 and 2004, but only the 2004 drought resulted in a severe food crisis. Many were quick to cite market failure and hoarding as causes of the crisis, but other factors such as the spatial distribution of drought, temporary trade restrictions, and inadequate incentives to import from Nigeria may have played a larger role.

December 12, 2008

Toward Measuring the Impact of the World Food Program's Purchase for Progress Initiative

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.

November 4, 2008

Thought for Food: The Challenges of Coping with Soaring Food Prices - Working Paper 155

World food prices risen over the past five years at an alarming pace after decreasing for three consecutive decades. CGD visiting fellow Nora Lustig argues that despite some relief since July 2008, the price hikes significantly set back poverty reduction, upset social stability, promote inflation, compromise rules-based trading systems, and hurt poor net consumers. Nonetheless, too many developing countries lack the instruments, administrative capacity, and fiscal space to implement safety nets fast enough and in the required scale.

September 16, 2008

How Can We Avoid Another Food Crisis in Niger? (Essay)

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.

August 15, 2008

The Right Response in Latin America to Oil and Food Price Pressures: Fight Inflation Now!

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.

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August 11, 2008

Biofuels and the Food Price Crisis: A Survey of the Issues - Working Paper 151

While the precise contribution of biofuels to surging food prices is difficult to know, policies promoting production of the current generation of biofuels are not achieving their stated objectives of increased energy independence or reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Reaching the congressionally mandated goal of blending 15 billion gallons of renewable fuels in gasoline by 2015 would consume roughly 40 percent of the corn crop (based on recent production levels) while replacing just 7 percent of current gasoline consumption. The food crisis adds urgency to the need to change these policies but does not change the basic fact that there is little justification for the current set of policies.