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On Planning for Development: Food Prices
Right to Food and Food Security - Rural Development - Agrarian Policies - AgribusinessLandgrab - Migration - Poverty - Globalization

UNU-WIDER  working papers:

Suresh Chandra Babu - July 2013

Policy process and food price crisis: A framework for analysis and lessons from country studies

During the recent food crisis, developing countries responded with a wide variety of policy responses to protect their population. Understanding the policy-making process in developing countries is important to know why such policy responses are made and how various actors and players shape up and influence the policy decision-making. In this paper we develop a framework for analysing the policy process in developing countries and apply it to study the food policy process during the food price crisis in selected countries. A synthesis of policy process analysis in 14 developing countries indicate that policy responses may differ depending on the nature and magnitude of roles of various types of actors and players in the policy process. Political institutions and organizational infrastructure for policy consultations, strategic analysis, knowledge management and monitoring, and timely warning of food crisis and its impact can determine the policy process and its outcomes. Several lessons for improving the policy process are derived from the country studies.

Blessing M. Chiripanhura and Miguel Nińo-Zarazúa - May 2013

The impacts of the food, fuel and financial crises on households in Nigeria: A retrospective approach for research enquiry
Derrill D. Watson II - May 2013

Political economy synthesis The food policy crisis

The food price crisis revealed contradictions in creating food policy. Much of the common policy response can be explained by a benevolent, unitary government. To understand the variance between countries, however, requires understanding fractured government decisionmaking, path dependency, and institutional constraints. Governments’ relationships with the private sector are very complex. They reveal both the firms’ lobbying successes as well as how the deep distrust between private and public sectors lead to perverse policy incentives and unintended consequences that undermine intended outcomes. Decision makers’ private interests and riot prevention played significant roles in selected cases, but were not leading factors overall.

Jikun Huang, Jun Yang, and Scott Rozelle - April 2013

The political economy of food pricing policy in China
Virgulino Nhate, Claudio Massingarela and Vincenzo Salvucci - April 2013

The political economy of food price policy: Country case study of Mozambique
Nguyen Manh Hai and Theodore Talbot - March 2013

The political economy of food price policy: The case of rice prices in Vietnam
Kavery Ganguly and Ashok Gulati - April 2013

The political economy of food price policy: The case study of India
Gordon C. Rausser, and Harry de Gorter - March 2013

US policy contributions to agricultural commodity price fluctuations, 2006–12
Johan Swinnen, Louise Knops, and Kristine Van Herck - March 2013

Food price volatility and EU policies
Kenneth Baltzer - March 2013

International to domestic price transmission in fourteen developing countries during the 2007-08 food crisis
Ephraim Chirwa and Blessings Chinsinga - March 2013

Dealing with the 2007/08 global food price crisis: The political economy of food price policy in Malawi
Shane Bryan - March 2013

A cacophony of policy responses: Evidence from fourteen countries during the 2007/08 food price crisis
Jonathan Makau Nzuma - March 2013

The political economy of food price policy: The case of Kenya
Aderibigbe S. Olomola - February 2013

The political economy of food price policy in Nigeria

The food crisis of 2008 in Nigeria was influenced by price changes in the world market and the escalation of the price of imported fuel into Nigeria which led to sharp increases in the prices of agricultural inputs and transportation cost. The soaring prices of food staples benefited the producers whereas there was a worsening of malnutrition among the poor. To cushion the effects within the short-term, the government released grains from the reserve, ordered the import of half a million tonnes of rice to be sold at a subsidized rate and suspended the tariff on rice imports. The policy measures adopted caused a reversal of the trend of food price increase within six months, generated awareness about the nutritional importance of major food staples, and led to changes in preferences in the demand for food commodities and stimulated increased financing for commercial agriculture. The short-term price reduction could not be sustained, however, due to food supply shortages, weakness of the Nigerian currency, and the poor implementation of projects.

WP/102 The Political Economy of Food Price Policy in South Africa

Johann F. Kirsten


WP/100 The Political Economy of Food Price Policy: The Case of Zambia

Antony Chapoto


WP/096 The Political Economy of Food Price Policy in Egypt

Ahmed Farouk Ghoneim


WP/095 The Impact of the 2007–08 Food Price Crisis in a Major Commodity Exporter: Food Prices, Inflation, and Inclusion in Brazil

Bernardo Mueller and Charles Mueller


WP/089 Effects of Food Price Shocks on Child Malnutrition: The Mozambican Experience 2008/09

Channing Arndt, M. Azhar Hussain, Lars Peter Řsterdal


WP/019 Foreign Assistance and the Food Crisis of 2007–08

Philip Abbott



From Foreign Policy
Don't blame American appetites, rising oil prices, or genetically modified crops for rising food prices. Wall Street's at fault for the spiraling cost of food.

How Goldman Sachs Created the Food Crisis
By Frederick Kaufman - April 27 2011

Demand and supply certainly matter. But there's another reason why food across the world has become so expensive: Wall Street greed.
It took the brilliant minds of Goldman Sachs to realize the simple truth that nothing is more valuable than our daily bread. And where there's value, there's money to be made. In 1991, Goldman bankers, led by their prescient president Gary Cohn, came up with a new kind of investment product, a derivative that tracked 24 raw materials, from precious metals and energy to coffee, cocoa, cattle, corn, hogs, soy, and wheat.
They weighted the investment value of each element, blended and commingled the parts into sums, then reduced what had been a complicated collection of real things into a mathematical formula that could be expressed as a single manifestation, to be known henceforth as the Goldman Sachs Commodity Index (GSCI)...

Governance for a resilient food system
Alex Evans - 1 June 2011
Center on International Cooperation, New York University

Today, the world produces enough to feed all seven billion of its inhabitants – but nearly a billion people still go without. This paper is about why this global scandal continues, and what can be done to solve it. Its central argument is that access to food is as important as how much food is produced – and that in a world of food price volatility, climate change and other kinds of shocks and stresses, the challenge of building resilience in the food system takes on overwhelming importance.
Section One of the paper looks at what needs to happen within developing countries, focusing, in particular, on a massive scale-up in provision of social protection systems that target the poorest and most vulnerable people...
Section Two of the paper turns to action that needs to be taken internationally – above all to tackle the sharp increase in food price volatility of recent years...
Section Three focuses on ways of easing current tightness in the global supply and demand balance for food through policies to reduce demand. While policymakers are right to focus on increasing food production, a range of factors – including climate change, water scarcity, competition for land, energy security issues and falling rates of crop yield growth – suggest that this may not be easy...
Finally, Section Four explores how this agenda can be put into practice...

From The Economist - February 26th 2011 -
The 9 billion-people question
A special report on feeding the world

IN HIS 1981 essay, “Poverty and Famines”, Amartya Sen, an Indian economist, argued that the 1943 Bengal famine, in which 3m people died, was not caused by any exceptional fall in the harvest and pointed out that food was still being exported from the state while millions perished. He concluded that the main reason for famines is not a shortage of basic food. Other factors—wages, distribution, even democracy—matter more.

In 1996 the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimated that the world was producing enough food to provide every man, woman and child with 2,700 calories a day, several hundred more than most adults are thought to need (around 2,100 a day). The Lancet, a medical journal, reckons people need no more than 90 grammes of meat a day. On average they eat more than that now. As Abhijit Banerjee of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says, “we live in a world that is capable of feeding every person that lives on the planet.”

Changing governance patterns in European food chains: the rise of a new divide between global players and regional producers
F. Palpacuer and S. Tozanli - 2003
This article traces general trends in European food markets and the strategies of leading firms in selected European food chains (milk, sugar, cereals, meat). The analysis highlights the emergence of a growing divide between the largest downstream firms on the one hand and specialty and upstream producers on the other. The former have adopted globalization and financialization strategies over the past decade and promoted global sourcing under the deregulated conditions of European primary food and agricultural markets while the latter remain anchored in national or regional markets and production systems. Implications of these findings for both Global Value Chain (GVC) analysis and European policy are discussed.


From The World Bank Group - April 2008
'7 Lost Years' - The Effect of Rising Food Prices on Poverty > > >

WASHINGTON, April 11, 2008 - World Bank President Robert Zoellick warned today of the threat posed by rising food prices world-wide.

Zoellick he stressed that food prices would be at the top of the agenda, and that the international community must make agriculture a priority.

Brandishing a sack of rice to make his point, World Bank president Robert Zoellick told reporters in Washington that rice prices have jumped 75% globally…and that’s in the last two months.

In Bangladesh, a 2 kilogram bag of rice now costs half of a family’s daily income. And the price of rice is likely to rise again.

From the World Bank Development Committee - 2008
Rising food prices: Policy options and World Bank response
The rising trend in international food prices continued, and even accelerated, in 2008.U.S. wheat export prices rose from $375/ton in January to $440/ton in March, and Thai rice export prices increased from $365/ton to $562/ton. This came on top of a 181 percent increase in global wheat prices over the 36 months leading up to February 2008, and a 83 percent increase in overall global food prices over the same period
Increased bio-fuel production has contributed to the rise in food prices. Concerns over oil prices, energy security and climate change have prompted governments to take a more proactive stance towards encouraging production and use of bio-fuels. This has led to increased demand for bio-fuel raw materials, such as wheat, soy, maize and palm oil, and increased competition for cropland. Almost all of the increase in global maize production from 2004 to 2007 (the period when grain prices rose sharply) went for bio-fuels production in the U.S., while existing stocks were depleted by an increase in global consumption for other uses. Other developments, such as droughts in Australia and poor crops in the E.U. and Ukraine in 2006 and 2007, were largely offset by good crops and increased exports in other countries and would not, on their own, have had a significant impact on prices. Only a relatively small share of the increase in food production prices (around 15%) is due directly to higher energy and fertilizer costs.
Numerous countries have set standards or targets for use of bio-fuels. The E.U. has set a goal of 5.75 percent of motor fuel use from bio-fuels by 2010. The U.S. has mandated the use of 28.4 billion liters of bio-fuels for transportation by 2012. Brazil will require that all diesel oil contain 2 percent bio-diesel by 2008 and 5 percent by 2013, and Thailand will require 10 percent ethanol in all gasoline starting in 2007. India mandates a 5 percent ethanol blend in nine states, and China is requiring a 10 percent ethanol blend in five provinces. From 2004 to 2007, global maize production increased 51 million tons, biofuel use in the U.S. increased 50 million tons and global consumption for all other uses increased 33 million tons, which caused global stocks to decline by 30 million tons.
This note is being distributed for information as background to the discussion of recent market developments at the Development Committee meeting. It was prepared by PREM, ARD and DEC, drawing from work across the Bank. Questions/comments should be addressed to Ana Revenga, PRMPR (ext. 89850).

From the International Food Policy Research Institute
Washington, D. C., U.S.A.
The World Food Situation: new driving forces and required actions
J. von Braun - December 2007
The world food situation is currently being rapidly redefined by new driving forces. Income growth, climate change, high energy prices, globalization, and urbanization are transforming food consumption, production, and markets.The influence of the private sector in the world food system, especially the leverage of food retailers, is also rapidly increasing. Changes in food availability, rising commodity prices, and new producer– consumer linkages have crucial implications for the livelihoods of poor and food-insecure people. Analyzing and interpreting recent trends and emerging challenges in the world food situation is essential in order to provide policymakers with the necessary information to mobilize adequate responses at the local, national, regional, and international levels. It is also critical for helping to appropriately adjust research agendas in agriculture, nutrition, and health. Not surprisingly, renewed global attention is being given to the role of agriculture and food in development policy, as can be seen from the World Bank’s World Development Report, accelerated public action in African agriculture under the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), and the Asian Development Bank’s recent initiatives for more investment in agriculture, to name just a few examples.

Acknowledgments - The World Food Equation, Rewritten - Outlook on Global Food Scarcity and Food-Energy Price Links - Poverty and the Food and Nutrition Situation - Conclusions - Notes - References
1. China: Per capita annual household consumption
2. Change in food-consumption quantity, ratios 2005/1990
3. Expected impacts of climate change on global cereal production
4. Consumption spending response (%) when prices change by 1% (“elasticity”)
5. Changes in world prices of feedstock crops and sugar by 2020 under two scenarios compared with baseline levels (%)
6. Net cereal exports and imports for selected countries (three-year averages 2003–2005)
7. Purchases and sales of staple foods by the poor (% of total expenditure of all poor)
8. Expected number of undernourished in millions, incorporating the effects of climate change
Food First Policy Brief No.12 - October 2006
Will a second Green Revolution really solve Africa's problems?
Ten Reasons Why the Rockefeller and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations’ Alliance for Another Green Revolution Will Not Solve the Problems of Poverty and Hunger in Sub-Saharan Africa

By Eric Holt-Gimenez, Ph.D., Miguel A. Altieri, Ph.D., and Peter Rosset, Ph.D.
...1. The Green Revolution actually deepens the divide between rich and poor farmers. In the 1960s, at the beginning of the first Green Revolution, the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations promoted industrial-style agriculture in the Global South through technology “packages” that included modern varieties (MVs), fertilizer, pesticides, and irrigation. The high cost of these purchased inputs deepened the divide between large farmers and smallholders because the latter could not afford the technology. In both Mexico and India, seminal studies revealed that the Green Revolution’s expensive “packages” favored a minority of economically privileged farmers, put the majority smallholders at a disadvantage, and led to the concentration of land and resources...

World Hunger: 12 myths

Food Security Information
for decision making

The "EC/FAO Programme on Linking Information and Decision Making to Improve Food Security”, is based at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and funded by the European Union’s “Food Security Thematic Programme (FSTP)”. Its overall aim is to:
- improve the quantity and quality of food security information and analysis; and
- promote its use in decision making processes.

Learning Center
The Learning Center offers self-paced e-learning courses on a wide range of Food Security related topics. The courses have been designed and developed by international experts to support capacity building and on-the-job training at national and local food security information systems and networks. More details can be found on the courses page.

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