THE IMPACT OF A FOOD CRISIS AND SITUATION IN MOLDOVANovember 27, 2008Prepared by AMThe food crisis is affecting over three billion people—half the world’s population. The triggerfor the present crisis was food price inflation. The World Bank reported that global comodityprices rose 83% over the last three years and the FAO cited a 45% increase in their world foodprice index over just nine months1.The Economist’s food price index stands at its highest point since it was originally formulated in1845. As of March 2008, average world wheat prices were 130% above their level a year earlier,soy prices were 87% higher, rice had climbed 74%, and maize was up 31%.From the middle of September 2008 the grain prices picture changed rapidly and come down upto 35-50%, while commodity prices are still high. Its harmed rural poor, because low-income andpoor families are faced with higher fuel and housing costs, they are still unable to buy sufficientfood.France Moen Lappe mentioned in his report that the main problem with the food prices is not adeficit of the production, but opposite – the preficit of food production made possible pricespeculation.The Main Reasons rise in prices • Biofuel production ( about ¼ of all world wheat production used for biofuel) • Climate changes (each 1oC of temperature decrease the cereal productivity up to 10%) • World population growth ( in 2006 the production of the calories per person was on 17% more then its necessary, but the population increase up to 70% in compare to the 1976). • Deprivation of US dollar ( as a main trade currency USD loss the rate ) • Population Income increase (income of the people in 2008 are increase up to 22% in compare to the lat 10 year) • Increase a steeple food consumption (Consumption of food by the population rapidly increases, particularly in developing countries. Like if in 1980, China it was procured 20 kilo of meat per person per year, in 2007 its increase up to 50 kg per person/year).The Current Situation in MoldovaAccording to the World Bank report the steeple food prices in Moldova increase up to 83%during last 3 years. Form spring 2007 the food prices increase up to 22,1%, non food productprice – up to 10,2% ands service prices – 10,5%, when inflation rate from usual 4,1% increase1 The food crisis appeared to explode overnight, reinforcing fears that there are just too many people in the world. According tothe FAO, there were record grain harvests in 2007. There is more than enough food in the world to feed everyone. In fact, overthe last 20 years, world food production has risen steadily at over 2% a year, while the rate of global population growth hasdropped to 1.14% a year.4 Population is not outstripping food supply. There is food on the shelves but people are priced out ofthe market. In the winter of 2007, instead of shortages, food price inflation exploded on world markets—in spite of that year’srecord harvests. As a result, the number of hungry people jumped dramatically to 982 million in just one year. The rebellions thatquickly spread across the globe took place not in areas where war or displacement made food unavailable, but where availablefood was too expensive for the poor. The spectacular increase in the price of corn in 2007 (from $2 to as high as $8 a bushel) wasquickly followed by an increase in the price of farm inputs. Profit margins are rapidly thinning for both conventional and organicfarmers. In general, farmers report that their costs are increasing faster than prices for their goods. Farmers receive less than 20cents of the food dollar, out of which they must pay for production costs that have increased by 45% since 2002. The prices ofmost fertilizers have tripled over the past 18 months. Urea, the most common nitrogen fertilizer, has risen in price from anaverage of US $281 per ton in January 2007 to $402 in January 2008, and then to $815 in August–an increase of 300%. Dieselprices to farmers have increased 40% over the last two years.
up to 15,4%. In November 2008, the prices for basic foods in compare to the same period of2007 are increase as follow: beef meat up to 40%, pork – 26%and dairy products - up to 40%.Opposite to that the market price for main cereal/grain are jump down starting from the middleof September 2008. And in compare to the 2007 September when price for wheat was about$350 per metric ton, today market price is about $ 80-90. Moreover, this happen not in Moldovaonly and in its global - worldwide food price inflation.The reason why grain prices jumped down: • Quantity of grain more then demand. Production of wheat in 2008 in compare to 2007 was more then 345% and in compare to 2006 about 202%2. (After the 2007severe drought, people were in panic and that is why cultivation area under the main cereal crops rapidly increased). • Demand of the wheat for biofule production in 2008 decries, because of the oil price jump down from $140 up to $ 49 per barrel. • Farmers do not buying wheat seed for 2009 seedling. They are afraid to cultivate more wheat for 2009, because of 2008 wheat price situation and area under winter wheat in 2008 autumn in compare to 2007 decreased more then 35%. • World grain market is full. • Inflation rate • Strong Lai to US$ and Euro made difficult for local producers to diversify agriculture production for export marketIn spite of the fact that Government of Moldova procure more then 45 thousand metric ton ofgrain with 3000 -3500 thousand lei ( $ 360 US) per metric ton for national reserve (food securityreason). Currently in Moldova the preficite of wheat grain, maize and sugar beat.The FAO said that future price increases could happen again during 2009-2010 harvestingseason “unleashing even more severe food crises than those experienced recently”3. In addition,luck of credit sources may cause another problem in 2009, particularly for food producers.Today developing nations account for US$ 343 billion of food imports across the world, a jumpof 35%, and many are trying to cut this bill in the midst of economic difficulties.To solve the food crisis we need to fix the food system in general.This entails re-regulating the market, reducing the oligopolistic power of the agri-foodscorporations, and building agro-ecologically resilient family agriculture. We need to make foodaffordable by turning the food system into an engine for local economic development in bothrural and urban areas. These tasks are not mutually exclusive—we don’t have to wait to fix thefood system before making food affordable, marketing fair or farming viable. In fact, the threeneed to work in concert, complementing each other.Main Objectives are:1) Support domestic food production internationally based on social, ecological andeconomic justice and the human right to healthy food.2) Stabilize and guarantee fair prices to farmers, workers and consumers by re-establishingfloor prices and publicly-owned national grain reserves at home and abroad.3) Halt agrofuels expansion. Suspend international agrofuels trade and investment.4) Re-regulate finance sector investment in food commodities.5) Promote a return to smallholder farming.2 Accorfding to the data provided by MAFI dated 14.10.20083 FLEXNEWS, FoodIndustriNews dated 07.11.2008
6) Support Agro-ecological and locally-based approaches to food production and foodsystem management.7) Food Sovereignty: Democratize the Food System! Food sovereignty is the right of allpeople to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound andsustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems. At theheart of these concepts is the belief that we need to democratize our food system in order toensure equity and sustainability. The democratization of our food systems requires a socialchange in the way we manage food. We must reduce the political influence of the industrial agri-foods complex and strengthen antitrust laws and enforcement. These changes will require bothchanges in practices and in legislation in order to establish a regulatory context for sustainableand equitable food systems. These changes also depend on the degree of political will on the partof business, our legislators, and our communities. Political will results from social pressure frominformed social movements. These movements already exist, and are gaining strength in the faceof the food crisis.Specific Objectives:Food crises, and policies designed to respond to them, have effects at national, household, andindividual levels. First, national decision makers and policy analysts must understand the degreeto which their country and population groups within it are exposed to the negative effects ofrising food prices or could exploit new opportunities offered by the higher prices. Thisunderstanding requires information on• global market developments;• the characteristics of their country with regard to international trade in food;• trends in local wages, food and agricultural prices, and energy prices;• the composition of income and expenditure among different population groups in the country;• and the responses of producers, consumers, and the government to rising food prices.At the national level, the actual effects of a global food crisis depend on• the net trade position (exporter or importer) in agricultural commodities relative to the size ofthe economy;• the degree to which changes in global prices are transmitted to local markets;• the sensitivity of government revenue and expenditures to rising food prices; and• the political and fiscal capacity of the government to respond to the crisis.At more local levels, the effects of a crisis will differ among communities and from householdto household depending on • a household’s net sales (or net purchases) of food relative tohousehold income;• the level of a household’s income and assets, which influences its food security andvulnerability to shocks; and• the existence and effectiveness of government programs and policies to protect vulnerablehouseholds in a community.
Within households, members are likely to be affected by a crisis to varying degrees, with thenutritionally vulnerable members—women of childbearing age and young children— being mostat risk.As policymakers assess the effects of a global food crisis on their country and on variouspopulation groups, the most important sources of data include nationally representativehousehold surveys, food price series from important commodity marketplaces in a country,and trade statistics.Where such data are missing for a country, they must rely on qualitative or indicative, ratherthan representative, data to make short-run assessments. However, a more thoroughassessment of the impact of a global food crisis on a country and its citizens and of the bestcourse of action to follow in response requires detailed data and relatively sophisticatedanalytical capacity for investigating some of the national issues associated with global foodcrises.Recommendations on the short-medium term agriculture resilience package that willinclude1. Scale up investments for sustained community agricultural growth.To transform the crisis into an opportunity for farmers and to build resilience to future foodcrises, a transition to viable long-term investments in support of sustained agricultural growth isurgently needed. Such investments are particularly needed in view of the emerging stress factorsfor agriculture from climate change that threaten to perpetuate the current crisis. Investments forsustained agricultural growth include expanded public spending for rural infrastructure, services,agricultural research, science, and technology.New and innovative crop insurance mechanisms should be introduced and tested at a largerscale.Information technology, improved weather data, and the expected high returns to insurance makeinnovation in this field now much more feasible.The needed supply response is not just a matter of the farm-level expansion of production, butmust comprise the whole food value chain, with private sector actors in the food-processing andretail industries playing key roles. New—and much broader—concepts of corporate socialresponsibility are called for.What could be expected from these measures? These investments would have high returns notonly in terms of agricultural growth, but also in terms of poverty reduction in both rural andurban areas through increased production and employment and lower food prices.
Who would be the key actors? Donors, UN, regional organizations, foundations, and the privatesector.2. Calm markets with market-oriented regulation of speculation, shared public grainstocks, strengthened food import financing, and reliable food aid.Speculation is mainly a consequence, not a cause, of the price crisis, so overregulation andmarket policing would be inappropriate responses. Surveillance and regulatory measures,however, such as monitoring speculative capital or limiting futures trading, should be taken tocurb excessive speculation in agricultural commodity markets.Under the current tight market conditions, it is infeasible to accumulate a global stock of grainthat would bring the desired calming effect into the markets. The needed incremental supply ismissing.Agreements on joint pooling of fixed portions of national stocks at the regional or global levelwould seem feasible, however. A coordinated set of pledges for a modest grain reserve to bemade by the main grain-producing countries (including coordinated releases from the reserve forregional emergencies when prices increase excessively over what market fundamentals indicate)should be established at global or regional levels. A global intelligence network should informthe management of these international coordinated reserves.The Food Aid Convention should be renegotiated and reformed, while current grain delivery andcash commitments should be expanded. An accompanying option could be a finance facility,provided by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), for imports by countries in foodemergencies.What could be expected from this initiative? The pooling of global or regional public stocks,complemented by an import-financing facility, would allow countries with greater food deficitsin a particular region to gain access to food supplies at reasonable and stable prices in times ofcrisis. It would also help contain the speculative expectations that fuel further price rises duringthe upswing. Its celare that such reserves have costs, depending upon their size, which need to becarefully weighed against potential benefits.Who are the key actors? The UNDP, FAO, WB, sub-regional organizations, and commodityexchanges.3. Invest in rural social protection.Comprehensive rural social protection initiatives are required to address the risks facing the poordue to reduced access to food as a consequence of high prices. A hierarchy of appropriate socialprotection interventions includes both protective actions to mitigate short-term risks andpreventative actions to preclude long-term negative consequences. Introducing or scaling upthese interventions is complex, associated with substantial costs, and dependent on knowledgebase and capacity.At the core of the protective actions are conditional cash transfer programs, pension systems, andemployment programs. However, targeted cash transfer programs should be introduced in theshort term. If food markets function poorly or are absent, however, providing food is a betteroption than providing cash. Microfinance, which includes both credit and savings, is alsoadvisable to permit the poor to avoid drastic actions such as distress sales of productive assetsthat can permanently damage their future earning potential. The large global networks ofmicrofinance institutions should consider responding to the price crisis by temporarily looseningrepayment conditions, as the poor need access to food consumption credit and debt relief.Preventative health and nutrition programs targeted to vulnerable population groups (such asmothers, young children, and people living with HIV/AIDS) should be strengthened and scaledup to ensure universal coverage. This measure is essential to prevent the long-term consequencesof malnutritionon lifelong health and economic productivity. In addition, school feeding programs can play animportant role in increasing school enrollment, retaining children in school, and enhancing theiracademic achievement.
Donors should expand support for such programs in conjunction with sound public expenditurereviews.What could be expected from these measures? These steps can prevent the long-term adverseconsequences of early childhood malnutrition, protect the assets of the poor, and maintain schoolparticipation rates.Who would be the key actors? The UN, national governments, donors, NGOs, and civil societyorganizations.Recommendations on rural agriculture development in Moldova1. A country wanting to develop its rural agriculture sector needs to perform an in-depthintegrated assessment of its general agriculture policies, programmes and plans, to understandhow they affect the competitiveness and the conditions of the value add agriculture sector.2. The objectives for government involvement for the development of the rural agriculture,particularly value add agriculture sector needs to be clarified before actions are undertaken. Allstakeholders should be involved in the policy development and development of plans andprogrammes.3. General and rural agriculture policies should support each other to the greatest extent possibleto promote effective policy coherence, especially if values add agriculture is promoted as amainstream solution.4. An action plan for the rural agriculture sector should be developed based on analysis of thestate of the sector, participatory consultations, a needs assessment and proper sequencing ofactions. The action plan should state measurable targets for the rural agriculture sector to helpagencies and stakeholders focus their efforts.5. One government ministry or agency should be assigned a leading role and rural agriculturedesks should be established in other relevant ministries and agencies.6. Governments should recognize the diverse interests represented in the rural agriculture sectorand ensure that all of them are considered properly as well as direct special attention todisadvantaged groups.7. A permanent body should be established for the consultations between the Government andthe private sector.8. Governments should actively contribute to awareness rising for rural agriculture developmenton all levels.9. Data about value add agriculture production and markets need to be collected over the years,analyzed and made available to the sector and policymakers.