Food security

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Food security

ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Thu Aug 26, 2010 12:54 pm

Grain price volatility caused not cured by export controls
Author: Jeffrey Frankel, Harvard

I recently listed some policies and institutions with which various small countries around the world have had success — innovations that might be worthy of emulation by others. Of course there are plenty of other examples of policies and institutions that have been tried and that are to be avoided. The area of agricultural policy is rife with them. Many start with a confused invoking of the need for ‘food security.’


The recent run-up in wheat prices is a good example. Robert Paarlberg wrote an excellent column in the Financial Times recently, titled ‘How grain markets sow the spikes they fear.’ Grain producing countries point to the high volatility of prices on world markets and the need for food security when imposing taxes on exports of their own grain supplies, or outright bans, as Russia did in July. The motive, of course, is to keep grain affordable for domestic consumers. But the effect of such export controls is precisely to cause the price rise that is feared, because it removes some net supply from the world market. The same could be said when grain importing countries react to high prices by enacting price controls, because that adds some net demand to the world market.

The current run-up in grain prices is reminiscent of the even higher spike in food prices in 2008. As Paarlberg argues, many of the other explanations that were put forward for that episode don’t fit this time. The importance of export controls is now clearer.

In 2008 Argentina imposed export tariffs to prevent its grain farmers from taking advantage of high world prices. This case seemed particularly irrational in that, unlike the usual case, the strongest political pressures came from the growers. At the same time, on the other side of the world, India put on export controls to prevent its rice farmers from selling their product on world markets to take advantage of high rice prices. Controls imposed by Argentina, India, and others were important contributing factors to the global spike in food prices.

Are governments indeed being completely irrational? The commodities we are talking about are staples in the consumption of ordinary households. For simplicity, let’s assume it is an absolute constraint that governments cannot allow grain prices to go above a certain threshold. Perhaps there will be riots in the streets otherwise. In this case might it make sense to put on export controls when the price threatens to go above that level? One can see the motivation in the short run. But, thinking in the long run, across complete cycles, controls are not a good answer.

One can imagine various sensible long-term policies that might assure that this constraint is not violated, such as stockpiling, although in practice many policies sold as ‘food security’ are not in fact applied in a sensible way.

One solution may be for major countries that are active in the market for wheat or rice to get together and agree not to impose controls. The result would be to stabilise prices: no more alternation of price spikes and price collapses. Each country could then rely more on the world market to cover shortfalls than it can now, when trade is made less dependable by the threat of controls by others.

The case of rice controls was nailed in a paper on food security written last year by two students in Harvard’s MPAID program (Masters in International Development), Naoko Koyama Blanc and Diva Singh. In their model, it can indeed under certain conditions be rational for India to follow the practice of imposing controls when the price goes up, under a regime where volatility is high because others impose controls.

But it would be more rational for India to negotiate a no-controls regime with other countries, because under that regime volatility would be lower, the controls would not be needed, and everyone would be better off.

Jeffrey Frankel is James W. Harpel Professor of Capital Formation and Growth at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

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Re: Food security

ตั้งหัวข้อ  hacksecrets on Fri Sep 03, 2010 11:49 pm

Violent protests over food price increases cost Mozambique economy $3M, government says
By: Emanuel Camillo

MAPUTO, Mozambique - Mozambique's economy has lost more than $3 million because of deadly riots over the rising prices of food and other goods, the government said Friday, as state media reported new protests in two other towns.

Those losses include damaged property and lost production, state radio reported citing a government report. Computers, chairs and other equipment were looted from bank branches during riots, and loads of corn and cement were taken from railway cars.

Mozambicans have seen the price of a loaf of bread rise 25 per cent in the past year — and fuel and water costs also have gone up. The increases have had a dramatic effect in the southeastern African nation where more than half the population lives in poverty.

Among those who have been hardest hit by the violence are the thousands of hawkers who make their living on the streets of the capital, said Antonio Fernando, the minister of trade and industry. Mozambique can only solve its economic woes if people are working, he said.

"These kinds of things can drive away foreign investors," Fernando said of the deadly riots.

On Wednesday, protesters threw stones, burned tires and looted shops, and police opened fire on them. At least seven people were killed and scores wounded. Traffic was returning to normal Friday, and it appeared few people were responding to calls for more protests.

State radio and TV reported police scattered protesters in two provincial towns Friday. There were no reports of injuries.

The Mozambique Workers Organization, the country's largest trade union federation, has called for workers to be allowed to get back to their factories and offices. In a statement Friday, the federation condemned the vandalism and violence that accompanied the strike, and said dialogue was the only way to resolve concerns about high prices.

The government, which sets the price of bread, fuel and water has said that it will remain firm on the higher prices. It has said keeping food prices low is difficult because so much of the country's food has to be imported: Mozambique grows only 30 per cent of the wheat it needs.

Civil war consumed Mozambique for 17 years after independence from Portugal in 1975. That devastation has slowed progress in agricultural development, said Franck Black, an expert on Mozambique with the African Development Bank.

From 1994 to 2006, Mozambique saw annual GDP growth of about 8 per cent, fueled largely by foreign interest in its raw and hydroelectric resources and growing confidence war would not return. Little of the new wealth, though, has trickled down to the impoverished majority.

Black said he was confident the government wanted the wealth spread more equitably, and said its macroeconomic policies were strong.

"The trickle down does take some time," he said.

Telmo Fernandes, managing partner of Portuguese consulting firm who was accompanying a delegation of eight Portuguese companies visiting Mozambique, told reporters in Maputo on Friday that entrepreneurs from his country saw investment here as a long-term proposition, while this week's disturbances "are temporary."

____

Associated Press Writer Donna Bryson in Johannesburg contributed to this report.

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Re: Food security

ตั้งหัวข้อ  hacksecrets on Fri Sep 03, 2010 11:58 pm

UN food agency calls special meeting over concerns on rising food prices

ROME - A U.N. food agency said Friday it has called a special meeting on the recent spike in food prices, responding to fears of a repeat of the shortages that led to riots in parts of the world two years ago.

The announcement by the Rome-based U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization followed Russia's decision to extend its ban on wheat exports. The ban has been held as partly responsible for the 5 per cent increase in food prices worldwide over the last two months to reach their highest level in two years.

Agency spokesman Christopher Matthews said the meeting of the inter-governmental committee on grains will be held Sept. 24, most likely in Rome. He said a large number of member countries had expressed concern about a possible repeat of the 2008 food crisis.

A food price rise has triggered deadly riots in Mozambique this week. There has also been anger over rising prices in Egypt and Serbia, while in Pakistan — where floods destroyed a fifth of the country's crops — the prices of many food items have risen 15 per cent.

However, agency officials and other experts have been stressing that the conditions are different from 2008, when high oil prices and growing demand for biofuels pushed world food stocks to their lowest levels since 1982.

Drought in Russia — and the country's subsequent restrictions on wheat exports — forced a sudden sharp rise in wheat prices, the agency said. Higher sugar and oilseed prices also were factors in the higher index.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin went on television Thursday to announce he has extended Russia's ban on wheat exports until next year's harvest to ensure it has bounced back from the drought and wildfires that destroyed 20 per cent of the crop this year.

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Re: Food security

ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Sun Sep 12, 2010 1:43 am

Environmental Group says EU Biofuel Targets Create Land-Grab in Africa

An international coalition of environmental groups says European demand for biofuels has driven local communities off their land in Africa and curbed the production of staple foods.

In an effort to protect communal land in Africa, Friends of the Earth, an international network of environmental groups, is criticizing the European Union for driving land acquisition by foreign companies across sub-Saharan Africa.

Report: Africa land for sale

According to a report released by the group last week, entitled "Africa: Up for Grabs," more than five-million hectares of land across Africa, an area roughly the size of Denmark, has been sold to European companies in recent years to meet a growing demand for biofuels.

Companies have been moving into African markets in recent years to produce palm oil, sugar cane and other crops that can be used as alternative sources of fuel in developed countries.

The group warns the increasing demand for biofuels has diverted land from food production, straining already limited food supplies and raising food prices in the region.

While Friends of the Earth has described the acquisitions as "land-grabbing," the group told VOA that many of the purchases are legal.

Despite living on farming plots of land for generations, many communities in Africa do not officially own the land they use. According to the report, governments desperate for agricultural investments are often willing to sell large tracts of land without consulting the communities that inhabit them.

Some doubt promises

Agrofuels campaign coordinator for Friends of Earth Europe, Adrian Bebb, says foreign companies often promise the development of biofuel crops will create jobs and reduce poverty, but do not deliver for the local communities.

"It all sounds well meaning, but on the ground what is really happening is that we are seeing people who losing their land for food use. And then we are seeing people whose land has been owned by their family for generations is suddenly disappear and the ownership is swapping across to European countries," Bebb said. "It might be legal on paper, but there are some definite ethical questions that need to be asked about whether or not this is a good way of using land and whether or not people should be more involved in how their land is used."

According to the report, this trend has been driven in large part by European environmental policy. In an effort to combat climate change, the European Union has committed to raise the amount of transport vehicles powered by biofuels to 10 percent by 2020.

Bebb said Europe does not have the land to meet this target and has turned to Africa to increase the fuel supply. But Friends of the Earth says the policy is shortsighted.

According to the report, fuels made from food crops produce no real reduction in emission, while contributing to deforestation and water shortages. The Friends of the Earth network has called for Europe to lift its targets for biofuel consumption or risk food shortages in already impoverished areas.

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Re: Food security

ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Sun Sep 12, 2010 1:47 am


>>> http://www.foe.org/

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มนุษย์อยู่ร่วมในสังคมเดียวกัน โดยความคิดเห็นที่แตกต่างกัน ย่อมสร้างผลกระทบต่อสังคมได้ฉันนั้น

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Re: Food security

ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Thu Sep 16, 2010 11:04 am

WHO: Global Maternal Mortality Declines by More Than One-Third


In this 2009 photo, mothers and their toddlers wait for food rations in the entrance of a feeding center run by the UN World Food Program in Aqcha, Afghanistan (file photo)

A new report issued by the World Health Organization, or WHO, states that an estimated one-third fewer women are dying from complications during pregnancy and childbirth, compared to a decade ago. The decline in maternal mortality still is not enough to achieve the worldwide goal of nearly ending pregnancy-related deaths by 2015.

The report issued by the WHO shows birth-related mortality declined by 34 percent during the past decade - from about 546,000 deaths in 1990 to an estimated 358,000 deaths in 2008.

That is an annual rate of decline of about 2.3 percent. Although the report called this progress "notable," it said it too slow to meet the United Nations' goal of reducing maternal deaths from pregnancy or delivery problems by 75 percent during the next five years.

Colin Mathers, with the World Health Organization in Geneva, said, "It's somewhat less than half the pace that would be needed."

To achieve the U.N.'s Millennium Development Goals on maternal mortality, Mathers, who analyzed data in the report, said the annual decline in deaths would need to be 5.5 percent. The study notes that 10 of 87 countries with historically high rates of maternal deaths are on track to achieving the 5.5 percent annual reduction.

The report noted progress in sub-Saharan Africa, with a 26 percent decline overall in maternal mortality since 1990.

According to the World Health Organization, 99 percent of maternal deaths in 2008 occurred in the developing world, with more than half in poor regions of sub-Saharan Africa, and an estimated one-third in South Asia.

The WHO's Colin Mathers says that reducing the rate of maternal deaths requires a commitment by countries, international organizations and charities to educate and train more medical personnel to attend to pregnant women.

Mathers said it also is extremely important to educate women. "General education, but also education about pregnancy - about pregnancy, childbirth, control of fertility. [This is] very important in reducing adverse outcomes for mothers and children."

Next week, the United Nations is scheduled to convene a conference in New York of more than 140 heads of state to review the Millennium Development Goals adopted in 2000, which include eliminating mother and infant mortality.

Phil Hay, an advisor to the World Bank development office that is dealing with health and education issues at the summit, said, "Look, these goals are due by 2015. What are we going to do as a development community to make sure all this happens by 2015?"

Hay said the World Bank is prepared to make a significant monetary contribution toward achieving the Millennium goals in 35 of the poorest nations with the highest rates of maternal mortality.

"These are mostly going to be countries in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. And we are prepared to spend up to $650 to $700 million in new financing to make sure that by 2015, we put an end to the unfinished business of trying to keep mothers alive," said Hay.

Hays said the United Nations will make a major effort during the next five years toward achieving the Millennium goals, which also include reducing childhood mortality, eliminating hunger and disease, and halving extreme poverty around the globe.

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Re: Food security

ตั้งหัวข้อ  sunny on Thu Oct 07, 2010 1:23 am

Food Agencies Warn of 'Protracted Food Crises'

United Nations food agencies say that people living in 22 countries suffer chronic hunger or difficulty finding enough to eat as a result of what they called protracted food crises.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Program (WFP) said in their new report that wars, natural disasters and poor government institutions have contributed to a continuous state of undernourishment in 22 nations. Most of these are in Africa like Somalia and Sudan but they also include Afghanistan, Haiti and Iraq.

Kostas Stamoulis is Director of the Agriculture Development Economics Division at the United Nations food agency.

"The food insecurity in these countries is extreme, three times more than the prevalence of hunger in other countries, in the rest of the developing world," said Stamoulis. "About 166 million people in these countries are undernourished, close to 20 percent of the world's undernourished people, so it's huge."

For the first time the two United Nations agencies provided their definition of countries suffering protracted food crises. Stamoulis said these are countries that report a food crisis for at least eight years and receive more than 10 percent of its foreign assistance as humanitarian relief.

The 2010 study said that protracted crises can become a self-perpetuating vicious cycle and that recovery in these countries may become progressively more difficult over time.

The two U.N. agency directors, Jacques Diouf of the FAO and Josette Sheeran of the WFP said there is an urgent need for assistance in protracted crises to protect livelihoods as well as lives, because this will help put the countries on a constructive path to recovery.

The FAO said last month that the number of hungry people worldwide had dropped below the 1 billion mark to an estimated 925 million people but there continues to be no room for complacency. The drop was primarily attributable to better economic prospects in 2010 and the fall in food prices since mid-2008.

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Re: Food security

ตั้งหัวข้อ  DeathPower on Sat Oct 09, 2010 1:18 pm

Floods continue to devastate Vietnam, 62 dead and 100,000 without food

HANOI, Vietnam - The death toll in devastating floods in central Vietnam rose to 62 as authorities rushed aid to about 100,000 people facing food shortages, officials said Saturday.

Fourteen additional bodies were recovered over two days, and authorities were searching for 20 people still missing, the national floods and storms control committee said on its website.

The floods have caused an estimated damage of 2.2 trillion dong ($110 million) to crops and infrastructure, the committee said.

In the worst-hit province of Quang Binh, where 42 people died and another 17 remain missing, authorities were scurrying to deliver aid to victims, disaster official Nguyen Ngoc Giai said.

No rains were reported in the region Saturday.

"The worst part of the flooding is over," he said. "Our task now is to provide food and water to more than 100,000 people who are in shortage of food."

Authorities have given local villagers disinfectants to try to prevent outbreaks of waterbourne disease, Giai said.

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