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  1. 1. About IFPRIThe International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI®) was established in 1975 to identify and ana-lyze alternative national and international strategies and policies for meeting food needs of the developingworld on a sustainable basis, with particular emphasis on low-income countries and on the poorer groupsin those countries. While the research effort is geared to the precise objective of contributing to the reduc-tion of hunger and malnutrition, the factors involved are many and wide-ranging, requiring analysis ofunderlying processes and extending beyond a narrowly defined food sector. The Institute’s research pro-gram reflects worldwide collaboration with governments and private and public institutions interested inincreasing food production and improving the equity of its distribution. Research results are disseminatedto policymakers, opinion formers, administrators, policy analysts, researchers, and others concerned withnational and international food and agricultural policy.IFPRI is a member of the CGIAR Consortium.
  2. 2. Copyright © 2012 International Food Policy Research Institute. All rights reserved. Sections ofthis material may be reproduced for personal and not-for-profit use without the express writtenpermission of but with acknowledgment to IFPRI. To reproduce material contained herein forprofit or commercial use requires express written permission. To obtain permission, contact theCommunications Division at Food Policy Research Institute2033 K Street, NWWashington, DC 20006-1002, USATelephone: +1-202-862-5600www.ifpri.orgDOI: 10.2499/9780896295476 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data2011 global food policy report / International Food Policy Research Institute. p. cm. title: Global food policy report Includes bibliographical references. ISBN 978-0-89629-547-6 (alk. paper) 1. Nutrition policy.  I. International Food Policy Research Institute.  II. Title: Global food policy report. TX359.A12 2012 363.8’62—dc23 2012010851PHOTO CREDITSCover image: © 2011 Tim Dirven/PanosChapter images: Page x © 2011 Tim Dirven/Panos; page 14 © 2011 G.M.B. Akash/Panos;page 24 © 2011 Sven Torfinn/Panos; page 38 © 2011 Patrick Brown/Panos;page 48 © 2008 Warren Clarke/Panos; page 54 © 2010 Jenny Matthews/Panos;page 62 © 2011 Sven Torfinn/Panos; page 68 © 2011 Zerihun Sewunet/ILRI;page 78 © 2011 Fernando Moleres/Panos.Cover design: Julia Vivalo / Book design and layout: David Popham.
  3. 3. Contents Preface� � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � vii Acknowledgments � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � ixChapter 1 Overview: Major Food Policy Developments in 2011 � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � 1 Shenggen Fan, IFPRI What Influenced Food Policy in 2011? � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � 11Chapter 2 Food Prices: Riding the Rollercoaster � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � 15 Maximo Torero, IFPRIChapter 3 Disasters: Déjà Vu in the Horn of Africa � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � 25 Derek Headey, IFPRIChapter 4 Climate Change and Agriculture: Modest Advances, Stark New Evidence � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � 39 Gerald C. Nelson and Tolulope Olofinbiyi, IFPRIChapter 5 Biofuels, Environment, and Food: The Story Gets More Complicated � � � � 49 David Laborde and Siwa Msangi, IFPRIChapter 6 Agriculture, Nutrition, and Health: Connecting the Dots � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � 55 Rajul Pandya-Lorch, Heidi Fritschel, Zhenya Karelina, and Sivan Yosef, IFPRIChapter 7 Land Degradation: Land under Pressure � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � 63 Ephraim Nkonya, Jawoo Koo, and Paswel Marenya, IFPRI; Rachel Licker, University of Wisconsin, MadisonChapter 8 New Players: Stepping into the Global Food System � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � 69 Kevin Chen and P. K. Joshi, IFPRIChapter 9 Regional Developments: Food Policy Taking Shape at the Local Level � � � 79 Food Policy Tools and Indicators � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � 88 Notes� � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � 105 Contributors � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � 112 v
  4. 4. PrefaceSince 2007, two rounds of food price hikes have contributed to millions of people being hungry or mal-nourished. The same factors that contributed to the 2007–08 food price crisis triggered similar pricespikes in 2011—factors including a declining growth rate of agricultural productivity, high energy pricesleading to expanded biofuel production, depreciation of the US dollar, strong demand from emergingeconomies for agricultural products, and weather shocks. With such complex forces at work, it is clear thatthe food policies necessary to ensure that all people have access to safe, sufficient, nutritious, and sustain-ably grown food must go beyond traditional agricultural production. Fittingly, demand for evidence-basedresearch to inform those policies is higher than ever, and the International Food Policy Research Institute(IFPRI) produces global public goods to respond to that need. IFPRI’s 2011 Global Food Policy Report—the first in a new annual series—provides an in-depth, con-textualized look at the past year’s major food policy developments and events. It both raises and answersthese key questions: What happened in food policy in 2011 and why? What challenges and opportunitiesresulted? What could have been done differently? What should be done in the future? In 2011, agriculture moved to the forefront of the international development agenda. In addition to pro-ducing adequate food, agriculture’s crucial role in improving nutrition and health, sustainably making useof land and other natural resources, and helping to address global threats like climate change has receivedlong-overdue recognition. Investments in the sector are rising, and contributions are coming from indus-trialized countries as well as emerging and developing economies, the private sector, and philanthropicentities. In addition to higher investments, policymakers also scaled up collaboration across borders, inparticular in their efforts to control food price volatility through the provision of better market informa-tion. This type of global policymaking must continue to take into account that legislation in one country(particularly trade and environmental policies regarding biofuels) can harm food security in others. Inter-national agenda-setting meetings, like the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Develop-ment in June 2012, cannot neglect the concerns of the poor. As the humanitarian crisis in the Horn ofAfrica starkly reminds us, however, research agendas and information-sharing are not enough to avert orsolve a problem; preventive actions are also needed. The topics covered in the 2011 Global Food Policy Report were selected after numerous consultations bya strategic advisory council consisting of policymakers, researchers, and other experts that sought to rep-resent the most profound, relevant, and broadly applicable food policy issues that arose in 2011. IFPRI’sBoard of Trustees and senior staff then provided feedback on major development and research topics, anda review of related print and broadcast media from 2011 was conducted. Finally, leading policymakersand food experts from around the world were asked for their opinions on how to best capture national andregional perspectives. Contributions were commissioned from experts, scholars, and stakeholders on topics that representeither a new development in food policy, a major change in food policy, or a new way of looking at a foodpolicy issue. The topics are regional or global in scope and feature high-quality research results as well asexpert opinions that will enhance the quality of debate. IFPRI’s 2011 Global Food Policy Report is the first of its kind, and I hope it will contribute to anenriched research agenda that informs sound food policies to the benefit of the world’s poorest and mostvulnerable people. I welcome your feedback, comments, and suggestions at SHENGGEN FAN Director General
  5. 5. AcknowledgmentsThis report was prepared under the overall leadership of Shenggen Fan and a core team comprisingAlexander J. Stein, Zhenya Karelina, Klaus von Grebmer, Rajul Pandya-Lorch, and Gwendolyn Stansbury.It benefitted greatly from the strategic insights of a committee of advisers, including Robert Bos, MargaretCatley-Carlson, Marion Guillou, Monty Jones, Agnes M. Kalibata, Michiel A. Keyzer, Justin Y. Lin, Mari E.Pangestu, Martin Pineiro, Prabhu Pingali, Beatriz da Silveira Pinheiro, Keming Qian, M. S. Swaminathan,Eric Tollens, Rhoda Tumusiime, Joachim von Braun, Emorn Wasantwisut, and Derek Yach. IFPRI’sBoard of Trustees provided additional guidance and inputs, as did the members of IFPRI’s SeniorManagement Team. Excellent text and data contributions were made by Perrihan Al-Riffai, Kym Anderson, Suresh Babu,Ousmane Badiane, Nienke Beintema, Samuel Benin, Deborah Brautigam, Clemens Breisinger, BruceCampbell, Rahul Chaturvedi, Kevin Chen, Cindy Cox, S. Mahendra Dev, Betina Dimaranan, PaulDorosh, Olivier Ecker, Shenggen Fan, Heidi Fritschel, Sara Gustafson, Derek Headey, Jikun Huang, KabbaJoiner, P. K. Joshi, Suneetha Kadiyala, Zhenya Karelina, Jawoo Koo, David Laborde, Rachel Licker, TsitsiMakombe, Sohail J. Malik, Paswel Marenya, Geraldo B. Martha Jr., John McDermott, Ruth Meinzen-Dick,Siwa Msangi, Gerald Nelson, Alejandro Nin Pratt, Ephraim Nkonya, Tolulope Olofinbiyi, Steven WereOmamo, Robert Paarlberg, Amanda Palazzo, Rajul Pandya-Lorch, Amber Peterman, Prabhu Pingali,Beatriz da Silveira Pinheiro, Nilam Prasai, Agnes Quisumbing, Jagdeesh Rao Puppala, Claudia Ringler,M. S. Swaminathan, Maria Theresa Tenorio, Peter Timmer, Maximo Torero, Klaus von Grebmer, StanleyWood, Derek Yach, Sivan Yosef, and Bingxin Yu. In addition, the following people provided thoughtful statements about what influenced food pol-icy in 2011: Bekele Geleta, José Graziano da Silva, Marion Guillou, Jeremy Hobbs, Michiel A. Keyzer,Rachel Kyte, Jiayang Li, Justin Yifu Lin, David Nabarro, Kanayo Nwanze, John Parker, Carlos Perez delCastillo, Keming Qian, Rajiv Shah, Josette Sheeran, Kathy Spahn, Eric Tollens, Joachim von Braun, andEmorn Wasantwisut. Production of this report was led by IFPRI’s Publications Department, including Adrienne Chu, PatriciaFowlkes, Heidi Fritschel, Corinne Garber, Michael Go, Marcia MacNeil, Lucy McCoy, Andrea Pedolsky,David Popham, Ashley St. Thomas, Julia Vivalo, and John Whitehead. In addition, valuable research sup-port was provided by Joanna Brzeska, Zhenya Karelina, Tolulope Olofinbiyi, and Ana Ramirez. The report benefitted greatly from careful peer review by IFPRI’s Publications Review Committee,chaired by Gershon Feder, and many anonymous scholars and experts who reviewed the research andprovided insightful comments on the preliminary drafts.
  6. 6. Chapter 1 OVERVIEWMajor Food PolicyDevelopments in 2011Shenggen Fan, IFPRI T he year 2011 highlighted ongoing chal- lenges to global food security, from food price volatility, extreme weather shocks, and famine to unrest and conflicts. On the policy front, major devel- opments at the global and national levels both offered grounds for encouragement and pointed to areas where further action is needed. First, the good news: after many years of neglect, agriculture and food secu- rity are back on the development and political agendas. Both China and India continued to expand their spending on food security and agricultural produc- tion. Some 20 African countries have adopted national agricultural and food security investment plans in which they will devote 10 percent of their national budget to agriculture to achieve agricultural growth of 6 percent a year. The US Agency for International Development (USAID) moved forward with its Feed the Future Initiative, begun in 2010, and the World Bank Group main- tained its recent increased annual commitments to agriculture and related sectors at about US$6 billion. The Consultative Group on International Agri- cultural Research (CGIAR)—a global partnership for sustainable develop- ment, of which IFPRI is a part—initiated an array of large, innovative research programs in 2011. And the Bill Melinda Gates Foundation refreshed its agriculture strategy with a strong focus on agricultural development in Sub- Saharan Africa and South Asia. More broadly, agriculture was increasingly seen as part of a larger con- text. It is becoming clear that agriculture contributes not just to food produc- tion, but also to human nutrition and health—conditions that in turn can affect agricultural productivity and overall economic growth. Agriculture is
  7. 7. also an important element in a number of other reserves are extremely low and staple grains are interlocking systems. It has strong ties to water, exported by just a few countries. However, favorable land, and energy, which are, like agriculture harvests in major producing regions and a stronger itself, under increasing pressure. And many of the US dollar induced a fall in dollar-denominated events of 2011 underlined how food security— prices during the second half of the year. that is, availability of and access to sufficient, safe, What do rising or volatile food prices mean for nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active the poor? Higher food prices cut into the budgets life—is linked to other notions of security. These of poor consumers but could raise the incomes of include economic security (related to employ- poor producers if they produce more than they ment, incomes, and gender), sociopolitical security consume. Volatile food prices, however, harm both (related to inequality, governance, and conflicts), consumers and producers by increasing uncer- and environmental security (related to natu- tainty and making it difficult for households to ral resources). budget for food consumption and to plan for pro- New thinking has been accompanied by new duction. Still, more needs to be learned about the actors entering the global food system. In 2011, specific impacts of price volatility on the diets of for the first time, the agriculture ministers of the the poor, particularly women and children. In Ethi- Group of 20 (G20) countries met and agreed to opia, for example, research on the 2007–08 food work together to tackle food price volatility and price crisis found that female-headed households food insecurity. Emerging economies such as were especially vulnerable to food price shocks.1 Brazil, China, and India have gained an increas- Shifts in food prices stimulated new policies and ing voice in international decisionmaking, moving initiatives during the year. As mentioned, the G20 from being aid recipients to aid donors and trading ministers of agriculture came together to design partners, with their own global agendas. an action plan to reduce price volatility, regulate This overview reviews the major food policy commodity markets, and promote long-term agri- developments of 2011, drawing largely on the cultural productivity. Toward the end of the year, chapters in this report, which look back at the the countries of the Association of Southeast Asian year in detail. Nations, plus China, Japan, and South Korea (alto- gether known as ASEAN+3) established an emer- gency rice reserve to help ensure long-term food FOOD PRICE LEVELS AND VOLATILITY security in the region. Global food prices rose during the first half of 2011 Some national policies taken in response to and fell during the second half of the year. The food changes in food prices may have increased the price index of the Food and Agriculture Orga- strain on the global food system. To raise pro- nization of the United Nations, which measures ducer incomes, the government of Thailand, the monthly change in the international prices of a bas- world’s largest exporter of milled rice, established ket of food commodities, reached a record high in a rice subsidy scheme that threatened to shrink February but moved steadily downward from June its exports and contribute to higher global rice to December, ending lower for the year. Still, food prices—a trend observed in the second half of the price volatility remained high in 2011. year. Several countries, including China, turned to The factors that pushed up prices during the large grain imports to build up strategic reserves, 2007–08 food price crisis were again at play during raising concerns about tighter grain markets. the 2010–11 crisis, including high oil prices, bio- fuel policies that promote the expansion of biofuel NATURAL AND HUMAN-CAUSED production, increased weather-related shocks such SHOCKS as droughts and floods, and growing demand from emerging economies. Further, the world remains The world saw some of the most severe natural vulnerable to food price swings because grain disasters on record in 2011. The 9.0-magnitude2  Major Food Policy Developments in 2011
  8. 8. CLIMATE CHANGEearthquake and tsunami in Japan; the severe floodsor storms in Brazil, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thai- The record-breaking extreme weather events ofland, and the United States; and the drought in 2011 suggested that climate change will put addi-the Horn of Africa imposed large economic losses tional pressure on world agriculture in the com-during the year. According to the International ing decades. The year provided more evidenceDisaster Database, more than 200 natural disas- that greenhouse gas emissions are rising andters, affecting nearly 100 million people around that climate change is already affecting agricul-the world, occurred during the year.2 Munich Re, a tural productivity.reinsurance company in Germany, estimated that The encouraging progress made at the annual2011 natural disasters imposed economic losses of climate conventions in 2010 in Cancun anda record US$380 billion—more than double those in 2011 in Durban helped address the disap-of 2010 and far above the record losses of 2005.3 pointment created by the failure of the 2009Poor and hungry people are particularly suscep- Copenhagen negotiations to result in bindingtible to these natural shocks. commitments and gave a greater place to agricul- In the Horn of Africa, severe drought due to ture in global climate change negotiations. A keyconsecutive poor rainy seasons was the worst result was the creation of the Durban Platform forexperienced in 60 years. Extreme drought condi- Enhanced Action. This platform, which includestions triggered a widespread crisis in the region all the Kyoto Protocol signatories plus the Unitedthat was especially catastrophic in Somalia. Many States, is a mechanism for forging a treaty byparts of the Horn, especially the lowland areas, 2015, whose goal is to bring both developed andsaw large crop losses, significant depletion of graz- developing countries together under a legallying resources, skyrocketing food prices, and sub- binding agreement by 2020.stantial livestock and human mortality. The dire Outside of formal negotiations, countries andsituation attracted belated policy and media atten- regions are proceeding with their own efforts totion as more than 13 million people, principally adapt to and mitigate climate change, even in thepastoralists and farmers, were affected and their face of a difficult macroeconomic climate. China,food and nutrition security was severely under- India, and Kenya, for instance, have all undertakenmined. Vulnerable groups such as women and significant agricultural adaptation and mitiga-children experienced acute food insecurity and tion activities. The progress made at the nationalundernutrition. The United Nations Children’s and subnational levels should not overshadow theFund reported that more than 320,000 children principle of common but different responsibili-suffered from severe malnutrition at the height of ties, enshrined in the United Nations Frameworkthe crisis. Convention on Climate Change text. Rather, these Droughts in the Horn of Africa are not new, national and subnational activities could be thebut the scale of the 2010–11 crisis has been basis of a binding multilateral agreement to pursueunusual. Although exposure to natural shocks is low-emission development strategies.inevitable, human vulnerability to these shocksis not. Reducing vulnerability means improving BIOFUELSsociety’s ability to cope and build resiliency in theface of future shocks. Given the severity of the Biofuel policy changes in 2011 were dominateddrought in the Horn of Africa and the frequency by the European Union, the United States, andof humanitarian emergencies in the region, a con- Brazil. In the United States, the Biofuels Marketcerted effort is needed to catalyze a transforma- Expansion Act of 2011 came into law, and debatetion, combining innovation, experimentation, centered on whether the Volumetric Ethanoland political commitment to enhance resiliency Excise Tax Credit—a tax credit for blending etha-and mitigate the chronic stresses that also impede nol into gasoline—should be repealed. Researchprogress in the region. suggests that this tax credit, combined with the  Overview  3
  9. 9. ethanol blending mandate, results in both welfare European Union during 2011. A central question and efficiency losses.4 In addition, the Round- concerns biofuel production and indirect land use table for Sustainable Biofuels was launched as a change—that is, whether the growing use of land mechanism for certifying biofuel producers who for biofuel crops ultimately leads to conversion of adhere to standards of low environmental impact natural land to cropland, diminishing the extent to and fair labor practices. This certification could which biofuel production cuts carbon emissions. facilitate their compliance with European Union As of December 2011, the European Commission regulations and provide a “green label” that could had not released its report on biofuel impacts, but earn them a price premium as the market fur- once the research provides more conclusive impact ther develops. findings and policy options, the region should be The environmental impacts of biofuel produc- able to move forward with adjusting its Renewable tion were an important topic of investigation in the Energy Directive. WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM ON AGRICULTURE A “New Vision for Agriculture” is presented at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, promoting market-based solutions to accelerate sustainable G20 AGRICULTURE MINISTERS MEET agricultural growth. The first-ever meeting of the G20 agriculture January 28 ministers, in Paris, yields a proposal to tackle food price volatility and strengthen food security. June 22–23 CHINA NO.1 DOCUMENT China’s No. 1 Document focuses for the eighth consecutive year on water conservation and water infrastructure, due to the previous year’s droughts and floods. January 29 AFRICA/INDIA FORUM SUMMIT IFPRI NUTRITION/HEALTH CONFERENCE At the second Africa–India Forum Summit More than 1,000 people attend the IFPRI-organized in Addis Abba, Ethiopia, “Enhancing conference, “Leveraging Agriculture for Improving Partnership, Shared Vision,” leaders Nutrition and Health,” in New Delhi, India. release a framework to reinforce coopera- February 10–12 tion between African countries and India. May 24–25JAN FEB MAR APR M AY JUN previous highest peak, 224 in 2008 238FOOD For most of 2011 food prices werePRICE above the 2008 peak. Only in theINDEX The Food Price Index measures weighted average international last three months DEC 2011 JAN 2011 prices of basic food commodities. The prices from 2002–2004 did prices fall FEBRUARY 2011PEAKS highest peak in FPI history were set to 100 to serve as baseline for the index. below the previous peak of 224.
  10. 10. THE FOOD AND AGRICULTURE NEXUS Brazil, China, and India have also substantially developed and revised their biofuel policies in In an increasingly interlinked global environment, ways that could have a large impact on food secu- policymakers have begun to more overtly recog- rity both within their own borders and outside nize the links between agriculture and nutrition, of them. health, water, and energy. Finally, the 2011 disaster at Japan’s Fukushima The agriculture, nutrition, and health nexus Daiichi nuclear plant revived debate on the poten- came to prominence in early 2011 with an inter- tial drawbacks of nuclear power, and a number of national conference “Leveraging Agriculture for countries are reducing their reliance on nuclear Improving Nutrition and Health” in New Delhi, energy or phasing it out entirely. This debate may organized by IFPRI and its 2020 Vision Initia- cause countries to shift to bioenergy, leading to fur- tive. This conference inspired and supported a ther increases in global food prices. range of new initiatives, including the launch NATIONAL FOOD SECURITY BILL IN INDIA UN FOCUSES ON NONCOMMUNICABLE DISEASES The Indian government introduces the National The first-ever United Nations General Assembly on the prevention Food Security Bill in parliament, shifting to a and control of noncommunicable diseases declares the need for a rights-based approach to food security. whole-government approach that includes the agricultural sector. FOOD/NUTRITION SECURITY December 22 September 19–20 IN AFRICA Africa Food and Nutrition Security UN ON LAND-DEGRADATION BONN 2011 CONFERENCE LOOKS AT Day takes place for the second time The United Nations General Assembly calls for building a FOOD SECURITY and examines “Investing in land-degradation-neutral world, a target reflecting the green economy The German government hosts the Bonn2011 Intra-Africa Trade for Food and theme of the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development. Conference on water, energy, and food Nutrition Security.” September 19–20 security links in preparation for the Rio +20 October 31 RUSSIA LIFTS EXPORT BAN ON GRAIN UN Conference on Sustainable Development. Russia removes grain export bans put in place the November 16–18 previous year after wildfires destroyed a significant amount of the annual harvest. ASEAN RICE RESERVE UN: CLIMATE CHANGE July 1 ASEAN (Association of AGREEMENT Southeast Nations) Plus UN DECLARES SOMALIA FAMINE At the United Nations Climate Three ministers endorse The United Nations announces that the Change Conference in Durban, the establishment of a drought in the Horn of Africa has led to South Africa, the attendees rice emergency reserve outright famine in areas of Somalia. decide to adopt a universal scheme. July 20 legal agreement on climate October 7 change before 2015. November 28–December 9JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC 11 SEPTEMBER 2011 number of people Over 13.3 million targeted to receive HOW MANY people in the Horn food aid at the of Africa were affected by one of million height of the crisis WERE HUNGRY? the worst droughts 10 in 60 years. time between the first HORN OF AFRICA JUN 2011 FEB 2012 alerts about a looming crisis and the peak of FOOD CRISIS months the famine SOURCE: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
  11. 11. of a major research program called “Agricul- for strengthening linkages across sectors and ture for Improved Nutrition and Health” by achieving win–win outcomes. the CGIAR. Several development agencies— USAID, with its Feed the Future Initiative, and LAND the United Kingdom Department for Inter- national Development—also began to design A rising world population, growing demand for or redesign their programs to better tap the food, fiber, and biofuels, and recent spikes in global links among agriculture, nutrition, and health. food prices have placed increased pressure on land, During 2011, 24 countries with high rates of resulting in more land degradation and increas- undernutrition joined the Scaling Up Nutrition ing land prices, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, initiative, a movement bringing together govern- East Asia, and parts of Latin America. ments, civil society, the private sector, research Several major land policy developments trans- institutions, and the United Nations to sup- pired in 2011. The United Nations General Assem- port countries in their efforts to develop nutri- bly convened a high-level meeting to address tion- sensitive national plans. More than 100 desertification, land degradation, and drought, organizations also endorsed the movement. In with government representatives highlighting not Sub-Saharan Africa, efforts to integrate nutrition only the threat posed by land degradation to social, and health into agriculture development strate- economic, and environmental sustainability, but gies were made on the continental, regional, and also the need for future investment in sustainable country level in the form of workshops, confer- land management. Several initiatives—specifically, ences, and action plans. These efforts included the FAO’s Global Soil Partnership as well as the an agreement between the New Partnership for Economics of Land Degradation initiative under- Africa’s Development and the Global Alliance for taken by Germany, the European Commission, Improved Nutrition to develop a five-year joint and the United Nations Convention to Combat program to fully integrate nutrition security into Desertification—were launched as mechanisms the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Develop- for strengthening sustainable land management ment Program. through knowledge building and sharing. New The links among food, water, and energy evidence presented at these events by IFPRI also gained attention in late 2011 with the con- researchers shows that policymakers should pay ference “The Water, Energy, and Food Secu- attention to land degradation not just in dry areas, rity Nexus” in Bonn, Germany. The Food and but also on many high-quality irrigated lands. Agriculture Organization of the United Nations More should be done to assure the availability of (FAO) launched a new addition to its State of the fertilizers in areas where additional fertilizer use is World report series with a report called The State needed and appropriate to improve soil fertility. of the World’s Land and Water Resources, examin- One dimension of land management policies ing the availability of cultivable land, the state of that particularly occupied public discourse in land degradation, and institutions for managing 2011 was the issue of foreign land acquisitions— scarce land and water.5 often described as “land grabbing”—especially Despite progress, more can be done to maxi- in Sub-Saharan Africa. Such acquisitions have mize the opportunities presented by the links the potential to inject much-needed investment among agriculture and other sectors. One barrier into agriculture in developing countries, but they to collaboration between agriculture and other can also harm the food security and livelihoods development fields is a lack of common metrics of the local poor. Large-scale land deals may also for measuring the impact of agricultural inter- have negative impacts on gender equity if they ventions on other development outcomes such as erode women’s customary land rights.6 Reports health, nutrition, and natural resources. And more on the issue in 2011 by the FAO, the World Bank, research is needed to identify viable opportunities and the International Fund for Agricultural6  Major Food Policy Developments in 2011
  12. 12. Development all highlighted the need for gov- New “players”—such as the privateernments to ensure responsible investment inagriculture and to strengthen land administration sector, emerging economies, andsystems that respect the rights, livelihoods, andresources of all citizens.7 philanthropic organizations—areNEW PLAYERS increasingly reshaping the structureNew “players”—such as the private sector, emerg- and nature of the global food policying economies, and philanthropic organizations—are increasingly reshaping the structure and nature landscape.of the global food policy landscape. Not only arethese new players a largely untapped source of the development of policy positions on food pricefinancial support to food security efforts in devel- volatility and food insecurity that fed directlyoping countries, but they also offer a wealth of into the 2011 deliberations of the G20 agricul-knowledge and expertise, providing new oppor- ture ministers. Public–private partnerships havetunities to address the increasing complexity and been launched to promote sustainable agriculturalchallenges facing the global food system. growth, reduce hunger, and improve nutrition. In 2011 these new players became more For instance, PepsiCo has signed several agree-entrenched in global food policymaking processes. ments with international organizations to sup-For example, the G20 is quickly claiming a growing port increased agricultural production (especiallyrole, next to the G8, as a principal forum for man- among smallholders) alongside long-term nutri-aging global economic problems. The action plan tional and economic security efforts in countriesof the G20 agriculture ministers also emphasized such as China, Ethiopia, and Mexico. Similarly, pri-the importance of strengthening the engagement vate philanthropic and civil society organizationsof nonstate actors, especially the private sector, in have continued to be major supporters of agricul-global food security efforts. Emerging economies tural development, nutrition, poverty alleviation,such as Brazil, China, and India have increased and natural resource management.their engagement, especially in terms of forging Still, the opportunities presented by these newSouth–South cooperation. In 2011, for example, the players have not been fully harnessed. For example,FAO and China made three-party agreements with the private sector’s presence in many global foodLiberia and Senegal to provide Chinese technical security platforms is essentially limited to multi-assistance to food security initiatives and projects. national corporations, and there is no real platformOne noteworthy development has been the initia- for engaging smaller companies. And until recently,tion of cooperation agreements between the Bill the traditional aid donor community—representedMelinda Gates Foundation and emerging economies by the Organisation for Economic Co-operationsuch as Brazil and China in support of agricultural and Development’s Development Assistance Com-and health innovations in the developing world. mittee—has not involved new players. Other 2011 initiatives demonstrate the privatesector’s increasing involvement in global food secu- REGIONAL DEVELOPMENTSrity efforts. The World Economic Forum releaseda “Roadmap for Stakeholders” as part of its New Some regional developments shaped food secu-Vision for Agriculture Initiative. This initiative—a rity and agriculture, as well as development morecollaboration among the World Economic Forum’s broadly, over the course of 2011.partner companies—promotes market-based strat- In parts of North Africa and the Middle East,egies for sustainable agricultural development. In long-standing factors—ranging from youth unem-parallel, the Forum’s partner CEOs contributed to ployment to growing income disparities and high  Overview  7
  13. 13. risk of food insecurity—led to the Arab Spring, protections have negatively affected the agricul- mainly in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia, but also in ture sector in developing countries. Bahrain, Syria, and Yemen. Addressing the chal- lenges that gave rise to the Arab Spring will require OUTLOOK FOR 2012 AND more inclusive development strategies. To improve OPPORTUNITIES FOR ACTION household food security, governments in the region will need to adopt policies that stimulate inclusive Overall, 2011 and the years immediately preced- growth, such as employment generation for the ing it have revealed serious weaknesses facing the young and poor, as well as expanded and well- global food system—lack of ability to respond to targeted safety nets. volatile food prices, extreme weather, and inad- African countries made significant progress in equate response to food emergencies were among implementing the Comprehensive Africa Agricul- the most visible. But chronic, long-term problems ture Development Programme (CAADP) in 2011. such as food and nutrition insecurity also point This program is the African Union’s continent- to areas where the food system can do better. We wide framework to boost agricultural productivity also face uncertainties. It is not yet clear whether and food security. Six countries signed compacts the global economic slowdown will worsen or committing them to achieving an agricultural sec- be reversed. Addressing all of these issues in a tor growth rate of 6 percent a year and to raising resource-scarce world will require keeping agri- funding for the sector to at least 10 percent of the culture and food security issues high on the global national budget—bringing the total number of agenda in 2012 and beyond. signatory countries to 29. About 20 of these coun- Without preventive action, several hot spots tries have developed national investment plans, could erupt in food crisis in 2012. Early warn- and 6 have received funding totaling US$270 bil- ing systems are once again pointing to the risks lion from the Global Agriculture and Food Secu- posed by drought in Africa—this time in the Sahel rity Program. region, including Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, and In India, Parliament introduced the National Senegal. The experience in the Horn of Africa Food Security Bill, which would provide rice, was a tragic reminder of the need to move quickly wheat, and coarse grains at low prices to more and aggressively to head off humanitarian crises. than half of India’s 1.2 billion people, making it Uncertainty also surrounds North Korea, long a the world’s largest antihunger program. China recipient of food aid, which is undergoing a leader- announced plans to boost agricultural productiv- ship transition. ity through increased public investments in water Participants in the major international events conservation and irrigation. Its water conservation of 2012 need to keep the spotlight on food policy investments will total about US$630 billion over issues. The G8 summit in the United States in May the next 10 years. and the G20 Summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, in June In Central America and the Caribbean, high could reinforce those groups’ earlier emphasis on and volatile prices and natural disasters raised global food security and ensure that previous finan- concerns about “a hungrier” region. In October cial commitments are honored. It is important that 2011, the ministers of agriculture of the Americas discussions and decisions at the Rio+20 conference approved a declaration emphasizing the impor- on the green economy and sustainable develop- tance of increasing investment in agriculture to ment not neglect the poor, who need better access reduce hunger and poverty and help improve social to food, jobs, and natural resources, as well as a stability in the hemisphere. secure social protection system. In Europe and the United States, contin- More broadly, food policy decisionmak- ued policy support to biofuel production, farm ers will face a number of challenges in 2012 and subsidies, a hostile attitude toward agricultural beyond. The long-term problems of chronic food biotechnology (mainly in Europe), and trade and nutrition insecurity persist, although they are8  Major Food Policy Developments in 2011
  14. 14.  Looking Back Looking Forward ENCOURAGING EVENTS IN 2011 NOT WHAT WE HOPED FOR IN 2011 WHAT TO WATCH FOR IN 2012Agriculture, nutrition, and health climbed High and extremely volatile food prices How are governments responding toup on the national and global agendas, in the first half of the year threatened the financial crises and how does this affectand the nexus of agriculture, food, land, food security of millions of people (see their development assistance, especiallywater, and energy has received more Chapter 2). in the fields of agriculture and nutri-attention (see Chapter 6). tion security? Biofuel policies in the United StatesThe world’s major political leaders made and the European Union have not been How much progress is being made onfood policy a high priority, with the G20 changed to take into account their impact the various initiatives taken in 2011, likeagreement on an Action Plan on Food on land-use change and food price volatil- the G20 Action Plan or the G8’s repeatedPrice Volatility and Agriculture. ity (see Chapter 5). commitment to improve food security? At the World Economic Forum, the The Doha Round of trade negotiations What impact are noncommercial transac-world’s business and society leaders gave was still not finalized, so countries con- tions in futures markets and the increas-agriculture a boost when they initiated tinued to maintain domestic policies that ing trading volume of index funds havingtheir New Vision for Agriculture. undermine the trading prospects of devel- on high and volatile prices of agricultural oping countries and the sustainability of commodities? (See Chapter 2.)Encouraging progress was made at the the global food system.climate change conference in Durban, To what extent is agriculture being inte-acknowledging the role agriculture can Setting a clear international standard or grated in environmental and sustainabilityplay in the mitigation of and adaptation to “code of conduct” for large-scale for- discussions, including EarthSummit 2012climate change (see Chapter 4). eign investment in land has received too or the ongoing climate change debate? little attention.China’s focus on agricultural policy bore What are the new leaders of the Worldfruit as total grain production exceeded African countries are not meeting their Bank, the Food and Agriculture Organiza-570 million tons, a new record (see Chap- target of allocating at least 10 percent tion of the United Nations, and the Worldter 9). of national budgetary resources Food Programme doing to promote nutri- to agriculture. tion security and agriculture?India’s Parliament introduced a NationalFood Security Bill to provide affordable The international community responded Are the lessons learned during the crisisgrains to more than half of its 1.2 billion slowly and too late to the disaster that in the Horn of Africa being applied topeople (see Chapter 9). was unfolding in the Horn of Africa (see increase effectiveness and impact when Chapter 3). addressing the emerging crises in theNew initiatives like Feed the Future, the Sahel and North Korea?Global Agriculture and Food Security Hunger still persists globally: nearly oneProgram, and South-South cooperations billion people go hungry every day. The How is the balance of power shifting inboosted agriculture investments. 2011 Global Hunger Index indicates that agricultural research, technology, produc- more than two dozen countries have tion, and trade, with emerging economiesPromoting mother and child nutrition “alarming” or “extremely alarming” hun- pushing the agricultural agenda? (Seegained momentum as it became widely ger levels. Chapter 8.)accepted that the nutrition in the 1,000days between conception and a child’s Which countries are making the mostsecond birthday are of crucial importance progress toward achieving the first Millen-for the child’s future. nium Development Goal, and why?  Overview  9
  15. 15. sometimes overshadowed by more dramatic events policies are where global forces translate into on- and acute crises. We will soon reach the 2015 tar- the-ground impact, so good governance and effec- get date of the Millennium Development Goals, tive leadership and implementation can make a big almost certainly without having met the goal of difference. Some countries would benefit greatly halving hunger globally. South Asia and Sub- from a stronger emphasis on building the capac- Saharan Africa, in particular, still show alarm- ity—that is, the skills and knowledge—of policy- ing levels of food and nutrition insecurity, despite makers and program implementers at all levels. the progress achieved in recent years. In addition, This outlook points to some high-priority areas more work will be needed to reach an effective for action in 2012. First, the G20 should take fur- international agreement on climate change. ther steps to rein in food price volatility by, for We must find new ways to exploit the links example, doing more to reduce the competition between agriculture and other sectors, including between biofuel and food production and to dis- health, nutrition, water, and energy. Paying attention courage trade restrictions that exacerbate price to gender equity will help make investments and swings. Second, the international community interventions in these areas more effective. Because should consolidate global and regional agricul- agriculture is at the nexus of all of these areas, we tural growth strategies and create or strengthen need to leverage it for broad development outcomes. the institutions and capacities needed to make At the same time, it will be important to set up a these strategies work. In particular, this year’s G8 global system to measure, track, and monitor the summit should work to ensure that the industrial impacts among agriculture, food and nutrition secu- countries meet their financial commitment in rity, energy, and natural resources. In addition, to support of a country-led development process for allocate resources more effectively, we should begin achieving food security in developing countries. to base the prices of natural resources and food on Third, participants in the Rio+20 meeting should their full value to society, including their social and integrate economic, social, and environmental environmental costs, such as impacts on climate sustainability efforts and commit to concrete change and health. All of these actions require skills action to meet the long-term challenges of devel- and knowledge at the national and local level, so opment, including poor nutrition, degraded soils, capacity building can help improve outcomes. and scarce water. Finally, a broad intersectoral These events and challenges will play out in dif- coalition should work together to address issues ferent ways in each country. National and local related to nutrition, food, and health.  ■10  Major Food Policy Developments in 2011
  16. 16. What Influenced FoodPolicy in 2011?Most spectacular in 2011 was the turn of events on world When food prices rose in 2008, hasty responses like ban-wheat markets from price spike to near collapse: In the ning food exports helped drive 100 million people intospring the media expected a second world food crisis, pos- poverty—the first increase in decades. When food pricessibly worse than 2007–08. Until July, and particularly head rose again in 2011, the world avoided poor policy responsesof the meeting of G20 agricultural ministers, speculators and invested instead in long-term food security. Duringand index funds were being accused more than ever of the world’s worst drought in 60 years, this approach wascausing hunger. But then wheat prices dropped, and atten- validated by Kenya and Ethiopia’s ability to avoid famine,tion to speculation waned, hopefully making room for thanks in part to President Obama’s Feed the Future initia-policy attention to larger, more long-term issues, such as tive and its emphasis on building resilience through agri-rural finance. cultural development. —Michiel A. Keyzer, Director, Centre for World Food —Rajiv Shah, Administrator, Studies, VU University, Amsterdam United States Agency for International Development, Washington, DCAmid drought in the Horn of Africa, floods in South EastAsia, and rain shortfalls in the Sahel, 2011 has clearly In 2011 two events were important: one was the eighthshown the devastating impact of climate-related shocks on consecutive year of bumper harvest of Chinese grains atfood security. These crises have focused policy attention on a record of 571 million tons, which surely contributes to athe urgent need to build the resilience of smallholder agri- more stable world grain market; and the other was the G20culture and poor rural people’s livelihoods. Going forward, Agriculture Ministers Summit in Paris. A new era of inter-and in light of the UN Climate Change Conference in Dur- national cooperation on global food security is approachingban, resilience is likely to remain a critical component of and emerging countries such as Brazil, China, India, andfood security policies, initiatives, and development efforts Indonesia will play increasingly important all levels. —Jiayang Li, President, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Beijing —Kanayo F. Nwanze, President, International Fund for Agricultural Development, Rome The developing world was again hit by food price and sup-The Arab Spring posed the biggest challenge to food policy ply volatility in 2011. In contrast to 2008, the demand forin 2011—and showed why it matters. Arab countries are effective actions to advance food and nutritional securitysqueezed on all sides by high imported food prices, spiral- was front and center. The Committee on World Food Secu-ing costs of food subsidies, and the dual burdens of mal- rity explicitly stated that agricultural policies and pub-nutrition and obesity, which will rise with population lic investment should prioritize nutrition and sustainablegrowth. The region is also the most vulnerable to global small-scale food production and increase the resilience ofwarming, water scarcity, and export bans. Without good local and traditional food systems and biodiversity, a goalpolicy and research, feeding the Arab world will grow ever we are fully committed to implementing.more challenging. —Kathy Spahn, President and Chief Executive Officer, Helen Keller International, New York —John Parker, Globalization Editor, Economist, London WHAT INFLUENCED FOOD POLICY IN 2011? 11
  17. 17. The Democratic Republic of the Congo, which contains stories of 2011, and has real potential to influence national75 percent of the world’s second largest rainforest, wants to food a leader in reducing emissions from forests. Financing —Rachel Kyte, Vice President of Sustainableis expected to run in the billions of dollars, which demon- Development, World Bank, Washington, DCstrates the government’s increased commitment to agri-culture. Speculation in agricultural commodities was also The G20 process, with the creation of the Agriculturalhigh on the agenda in 2011. There is little evidence that Market Information System and general recognition of thespeculators systematically drive food prices, but they do importance of better information significantly influencedaffect price volatility. However, limiting speculative trading food policy in 2011. So did the growing acceptance of themight do more harm than good. The G20 decided to create UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s findings (in themore transparency and asked the UN’s Food and Agricul- 2011 State of Food and Agriculture report) that promot-ture Organization to monitor trading more closely. ing gender equality and equity would bring the number of —Eric Tollens, Professor Emeritus, Katholieke hungry down by 150 million. Also FAO’s launch of a new Universiteit, Leuven, Belgium agricultural paradigm, “Save and Grow,” which is designed to increase global food production sustainably.For the first time the G20 placed a high priority on agricul- —José Graziano da Silva, Director General, Food andture. Price volatility and food security were priorities of the Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, RomeFrench presidency. Interest in these issues continues into2012 under the Mexican presidency and is likely to gener- The increasing momentum of the Scaling Up Nutritionate significant investments in agriculture, thus addressing movement was evident in 2011. The movement supporteddeclining productivity. country-led efforts to improve nutrition through coopera- —Justin Yifu Lin, Senior Vice President and Chief tive partners working across sectors toward a common Economist, World Bank, Washington, DC goal. Scaling Up Nutrition promotes both direct nutri- tion interventions and nutrition-sensitive strategies suchPersistent high food prices, among other things, triggered as improving agricultural practices to increase availabil-the formation of land markets, leading to excessive com- ity of nutrient-rich crops. The 2011 international confer-mercial pressure on land in a context of ill-defined property ence “Leveraging Agriculture for Improving Nutritionrights. A new landscape of energy policy emerged—shale and Health,” coordinated by the 2020 Vision Initiative ofgas, bioenergy, and partial exits from atomic energy in IFPRI, sparked the interests of global counterparts andGermany and Japan. It comes with indirect linkages to served as a timely complement to the Scaling Up Nutritionagriculture (in the form of opportunity costs) and raises collective effort.challenges to address climate change. Food policy was also —Emorn Wasantwisut, Senior Advisor, Institute ofsignificantly advanced by the G20 debate and proposals Nutrition, Mahidol University, Salaya, Thailandto increase agriculture aid, commodity trading improve-ments, and the related US and European follow-up that will I am pleased with last year’s extraordinary commitmentaccommodate more transparency and less speculation. by world leaders to improve human nutrition, which has —Joachim von Braun, Director, Department for Economic stimulated the emergence of a country-led movement to and Technological Change, Center for Development “Scale Up Nutrition.” I am particularly impressed with Research, Bonn, Germany the way this has engaged a broad range of stakeholders and is encouraging nutrition-sensitive agricultural, indus-Climate-smart agriculture increases productivity, strength- trial, health, education, employment, social welfare, andens farmers’ resilience, and reduces agriculture’s con- economic policies. I welcome the focus on improving thetribution to climate change by reducing greenhouse gas coverage of specific actions to improve nutrition fromemissions and increasing carbon storage on farmland. conception to a child’s second birthday and on politi-Growing global recognition of climate-smart agricul- cal accountability for equitable improvement in nutri-ture and its potential to offer triple wins for food security, tion within the context of policies for food, health, andadaptation and mitigation was one of the major success social security. —David Nabarro, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General on Food Security and Nutrition, New York12  WHAT INFLUENCED FOOD POLICY IN 2011?
  18. 18. For the eighth consecutive year, China’s total grain pro- In Canada, the most important food policy event was influ-duction increased, reaching 571 million tons last year enced by ideology rather than market or resource policyand exceeding 550 metric tons for the first time in half shifts: the government’s decision to abolish the Canadiana century. This helped China fight domestic consumer- Wheat Board which for decades has sold all Western Cana-price inflation and stabilize world food prices. Also, a dian wheat. This will open up new market opportunities forstudy group headed by Yuan Longping, China’s father of the international wheat majors. On water issues, there werehybrid rice, announced that the yield of hybrid rice per Mu interesting indications that the Indian national governmentexceeds 900 kilogram in one of its trial sites. This would is looking for the political and financial space to assume acontribute greatly to Chinese and world food security. larger role, for example, by including major irrigation canal —Keming Qian, Director General, Department of investments in its next five-year plan. Development and Planning, Ministry of —Margaret Catley-Carlson, Chair, Crop Diversity Trust, Agriculture, Beijing Rome, and Patron, Global Water Partnership, StockholmIn 2011 Oxfam launched its most ambitious campaign: In our 2011 World Disasters Report, the IFRC addressed oneGROW. Food prices, flattening yields, climate change, of the most persistent critical issues facing our word today:unfair trade, failing markets, inequality between men and hunger. As an Ethiopian, I saw first-hand my country’s ter-women and land grabs are all connected and contributing rible famine and I know what it means for people to a global food system that is dominated by a few powerful Globally, an estimated 925 million people do not havegovernments and companies, while failing the majority of enough to eat, and as the population grows between now andpeople. GROW will push policy and practice changes from 2050, global food supplies will come under even greater pres-the global to local levels to grow more food more fairly sure. Governments must acknowledge the right to food andand sustainably. implement comprehensive, community-centered hunger pre- —Jeremy Hobbs, Executive Director, Oxfam vention programs now and increase equitable and sustain- International, Oxford, England able investments in food security. —Bekele Geleta, Secretary General, InternationalThe destabilizing effects and uncertainties created by the Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescentrecent price hikes of major staple foods and the food crises Societies, Genevaand famine in the Horn of Africa, have raised food securityconcerns to a higher political level, receiving more atten- The G20 focused on food security and price volatility andtion and priority consideration than in the past in the agen- led to international research initiatives to secure an ade-das of decisionmakers in governments. This is an important quate level of production. The Wheat Initiative was decidedstep forward, since food security is a highly political issue to promote highly productive wheat systems adapted tothat requires political solutions, rather than a humanitar- climate change. The GEO-GLAM project aims to moni-ian issue that needs technical solutions as it was often seen tor cultivated areas in order to predict harvests, as betterin the past. anticipation prevents the formation of “bubbles” in agricul- —Carlos Pérez del Castillo, Chair, CGIAR Consortium tural markets. In 2011, G20 decisions represented a major Board, Montpellier, France step forward in coordinating efforts to improve World Food Security.The importance of an integrated approach to food security —Marion Guillou, Chief Executive Officer,that IFPRI has helped prioritize is vital in today’s world. French National Institute for AgriculturalThe year 2011 and the famine in the Horn of Africa rein- Research, Parisforced the role of social safety net programs in providing abroad package of support for the most vulnerable—fromspecialized nutrition products to protect the minds andbodies of young children, to investments in sustainableland management to help communities’ build resiliencyto drought. —Josette Sheeran, Executive Director, World Food Programme, Rome WHAT INFLUENCED FOOD POLICY IN 2011? 13
  19. 19. Chapter 2  FOOD PRICESRiding the RollercoasterMaximo Torero, IFPRI T he world faces a new food economy that likely involves both higher and more volatile food prices, and evidence of both phenomena was on view in 2011. After the food price crisis of 2007–08, food prices started rising again in June 2010, with international prices of maize and wheat roughly doubling by May 2011. The peak came in Feb- ruary 2011, in a spike that was even more pronounced than that of 2008, according to the food price index of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. When prices of specific commodities are adjusted for inflation, though, the 2011 price spike did not reach the levels of 2008 (Figure 1). Although the food price spikes of 2008 and 2011 did not reach the heights of the 1970s, price volatility—the amplitude of price movements over a particular period of time—has been at its highest level in the past 50 years. This volatility has affected wheat and maize prices in particular. For hard wheat, for exam- ple, there were an average of 27 days of excessive price volatility a year between January 2001 and December 2006 (according to a measure of price volatility recently developed at IFPRI1). From January 2007 to December 2011, the average number of days of excessive volatility more than doubled to 76 a year (Figure 2).2 High and volatile food prices are two different phenomena with distinct implications for consumers and producers. High food prices may harm poorer
  20. 20. FIGURE 1  Inflation-adjusted prices of agricultural commodities and oil, 1990–2011 450 100 90 Weekly crude oil prices (US$ per barrel) 400 Maize Weekly agricultural commodity Hard wheat 80 350 prices (US$ per metric ton) Rice 70 300 Soybeans Crude oil 60 250 50 200 40 150 30 100 20 50 10 0 0 2011 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, FAOSTAT database,; International Grains Council, World Grain Statistics 2009 (London, 2009); US Energy Information Administration, World Crude Oil Prices (online data) (Washington, DC, 2011), www.  Note: Prices are adjusted for inflation using a consumer price index base year of 1982–84 (that is, 1982–84 = 100). Maize is US No. 2 Yel- low, wheat is US No. 2 Hard Red Winter, rice is White Thai A1 Super, soybeans are US No. 1 Yellow, and crude oil is the spot price for West Texas Intermediate at Cushing, Oklahoma. consumers because they need to spend more and pesticides? Should they pay for high-quality money on their food purchases and therefore may seeds? Without a good idea of how much they will have to cut back on the quantity or the quality of earn from their products, farmers may become the food they buy or economize on other needed more pessimistic in their long-term planning and goods and services. For food producers, higher dampen their investments in areas that could food prices could raise their incomes—but only improve their productivity. (The positive rela- if they are net sellers of food, if increased global tionship between price volatility and producers’ prices feed through to their local markets, and if the expected losses can be modeled in a simple profit price developments on global markets do not also maximization model assuming producers are price increase their production costs. For many produc- takers. Still, it is important to mention that there ers, particularly smallholders, some of these condi- is no uniform empirical evidence of the behavioral tions were not met in the food price crisis of 2011. response of producers to volatility.) By reducing Apart from these effects of high food prices, supply, such a response could lead to higher prices, price volatility also has significant effects on food which in turn would hurt consumers. producers and consumers. Greater price volatility It is important to remember that in rural areas can lead to greater potential losses for producers the line between food consumers and producers is because it implies price changes that are larger and blurry. Many households both consume and pro- faster than what producers can adjust to. Uncer- duce agricultural commodities. Therefore, if prices tainty about prices makes it more difficult for farm- become more volatile and these households reduce ers to make sound decisions about how and what their spending on seeds, fertilizer, and other inputs, to produce. For example, which crops should they this may affect the amount of food available for produce? Should they invest in expensive fertilizers their own consumption. And even if the households16  Riding the Rollercoaster