Visiting fellow Nora Lustig examines the policy dilemmas rising food prices force on developing countries. Letting prices adjust can generate inflationary pressure while efforts to stabilize domestic prices often exacerbate global price increases; during the recent food price crisis, many countries chose instead to shift the burden back to international markets.
The net effect of supermarkets in the developing world will be to improve the welfare of consumers, but the extent of that benefit and how well it is distributed are open questions. Many factors, including the fate of small farmers, traditional traders, and mom-and-pop shops, will come into play, and any judgment of the supermarket revolution has to consider them all. In this CGD working paper, non-resident fellow Peter Timmer draws from many perspectives to assess the effect the supermarket revolution may have on poverty alleviation.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Statement Before The U.S. House Of Representatives Committee On Financial Services: Hearing on Contributing Factors and International Responses to the Global Food Crisis
Statement Before The U.S. House Of Representatives Committee On Financial Services: Hearing on Contributing Factors and International Responses to the Global Food Crisis.
Global Warming and Agriculture: New Country Estimates Show Developing Countries Face Declines in Agriculture Productivity
This CGD Brief, based on Global Warming and Agriculture: Impact Estimates by Country, by senior fellow William Cline, explores the implications of global warming for world agriculture, with special attention to China, India, Brazil, and the poor countries of the tropical belt in Africa and Latin America. The brief shows that the long-term effects on world agriculture will be substantially negative: India could see a drop in agricultural productivity of 30 to 40 percent; China's south central region would be in jeopardy; and the United States may see reductions of 25 to 35 percent in the southeast and the southwestern plains.
In this new book, Bill Cline, a joint senior fellow at CGD and the Peterson Institute for International Economics, provides the first ever estimates of the impact on agriculture by country, with a particular focus on the social and economic implications in China, India, Brazil, and the poor countries of the tropical belt in Africa and Latin America. His study shows that the long-term negative effects on world agriculture will be severe, and that developing countries will suffer first and worst.
In this CGD/ Peterson Institute Brief, CGD senior fellow Kimberly Elliott argues that agriculture liberalization is crucial to the successful completion of the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations, since it is the sector with the highest remaining barriers in rich countries and the greatest potential gains from further liberalization. She examines patterns in rich-country support for agriculture and what reform would mean for developing countries, and offers recommendations for how to complete the round and ensure that developing countries benefit.
Agricultural market liberalization is the linchpin for a successful conclusion to the Doha Round of World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations because these are the most protected markets remaining in most rich countries. But the implications for developing countries, especially the poorest, are more complex than the current debate suggests. In her new book, Delivering on Doha: Farm Trade and the Poor, Kimberly Ann Elliott, a joint senior fellow at CGD and the Peterson Institute for International Economics, examines the structure of agricultural support in rich countries and the challenges and opportunities for reviving and completing the Doha Round of trade negotiations.
Are we doing well by doing good?
This CGD Note by C. Peter Timmer explores the alliance between US farmers, processors and shippers that forms the political foundation of the US food aid program. The Note outlines the current winners and losers of US food aid, and argues that surprisingly, the recipients are most often the losers.
After two decades of neglect, interest in agriculture is on the rise. This new working paper by one of the leading thinkers in rural development argues that the reach and efficiency of rural infrastructure, coupled with effective investment in agricultural research and extension, hold the key to unlocking the potential of agriculture for poverty reduction.
Paradoxically, in most successfully developing countries, especially those in the rice-based economies of Asia, the public provision of food security quickly slips from its essential role as an economic stimulus into a political response to the pressures of rapid structural transformation, thereby becoming a drag on economic efficiency. The long-run relationship between food security and economic growth thus tends to switch from positive to negative over the course of development. Because of inevitable inertia in the design and implementation of public policy, this switch presents a serious challenge to the design of an appropriate food policy.
This paper reviews research on the impact of rice prices on the poor, on real wages in rural and urban areas, and on the broader macroeconomic consequences for investments in labor-intensive manufacturing.