The State of Food Insecurity in the World

The State of Food Insecurity in the World: How does international price volatility affect domestic economies and food security?

Executive summary available here

The State of Food Insecurity in the World (SOFI) Report is out. It seeks to highlight the impacts that the world food crisis of 2006-08 had on different countries with particular attention on the poor. The report finds that some large countries were better able to deal with the crisis and that the most vulnerable were people in smaller, import-dependent countries which were badly impacted by the price rises. The impact of these price rises, the report argues, can have a permanent effect on future earning capacity and ability to escape poverty.

 

This year it tackles the question of price volatility and the impact on local economies and food security. Key questions raised include:

  • What was the impact of the 2006ā€“08 world food price crisis on food security ā€“ and why were some countries and regions able to cope better than others?
  • What do recent trends tell us about the likelihood of high and volatile food prices continuing?
  • Do high and volatile food prices offer smallholder farmers potential benefits, as well as costs? What needs to be done to change the balance?
  • What is the role of trade policies and buffer stocks in preventing or mitigating domestic price volatility?
  • What steps can be taken, by countries and by smallholder farmers, to manage the risks of production and price shocks?
  • How can targeted safety nets be designed and put in place to protect the most vulnerable from the negative impacts of volatile food prices?
  • What types of investment are needed to ensure the increased productivity, sustainability and resilience of agriculture and alleviate food insecurity?

 

Key messages from the report:

  • Small import-dependent countries, especially in Africa, were deeply affected by the food and economic crises.
  • High and volatile food prices are likely to continue.
  • Price volatility makes both smallholder farmers and poor consumers increasingly vulnerable to poverty.
  • Large short-term price changes can have long-term impacts on development.
  • High food prices worsen food insecurity in the short term.
  • High food prices present incentives for increased long-term investment in the agriculture sector, which can contribute to improved food security in the longer term.
  • Safety nets are crucial for alleviating food insecurity in the short term, as well as for providing a foundation for long-term development.
  • Investment in agriculture remains critical to sustainable long-term food security.

 

The report comes in advance of the 37th Session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) which has organized a policy roundtable on price volatility and created a webpage with information: http://www.fao.org/cfs/cfs-home/cfs-portal/en/

 

The High Level Panel of Experts to the CFS has released a report on price volatility: http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/user_upload/hlpe/hlpe_documents/HLPE-price-volatility-and-food-security-report-July-2011.pdf

 

The Civil Society Mechanism has been facilitating a working group on Price Volatility. Information about this open working group, including comments on possible CFS decisions on price volatility can be found here: http://cso4cfs.org/csm-working-groups-2/4-price-volatility/

 

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