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Are rising world food prices a threat to the MDG hunger target? Alan Matthews Millennium Development Goal lecture series Trinity College Dublin 13 February.

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Presentation on theme: "Are rising world food prices a threat to the MDG hunger target? Alan Matthews Millennium Development Goal lecture series Trinity College Dublin 13 February."— Presentation transcript:

1 Are rising world food prices a threat to the MDG hunger target? Alan Matthews Millennium Development Goal lecture series Trinity College Dublin 13 February 2008

2 Main messages Answer: Possibly, but can be a great opportunity to help meet those targets Rising world food prices represent a fantastic opportunity to revitalise agricultural and rural development in low income countries where the bulk of the worlds poor live and work..but clear strategies are needed to avoid squandering these opportunities..... and there is an important role and opportunity for Irish Aid The author wishes to acknowledge the support of the Advisory Board for Irish Aid under its Framework Project on Policy Coherence for research into this issue

3 Per capita food production index Source: Ugarte 2007

4 The world food context Steadily growing world food supplies.... Despite improving nutrition and increasing food demand in all regions….. Have led to a steady fall in real food prices during the past four decades. For commodity-dependent poor country exporters, that also translates into adverse terms of trade movement

5 Evolution of calorie supply Source: Ugarte 2007

6 Source: FAO World Agriculture: Towards 2015/2030

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8 MDG Goal 1: Eradicate Extreme Hunger and Poverty Target 2. Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger Indicators –Prevalence of underweight children under five years of age (UNICEF-WHO) –Proportion of population below minimum level of dietary energy consumption (FAO) Progress –FAO and UN believe MDG goal will be met overall because of good performance in East Asia, but missed in many individual countries

9 Source: FAO, State of Food Insecurity, 2006

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13 Source: UN MDG Report 2007

14 But now… dramatic changes in world food markets Recent years have seen a sharp increase in real food prices, with particularly large jumps in recent months for some commodities..

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17 Factors behind jump in food prices Rising incomes Link with energy markets Resource scarcity Failure to invest sufficiently in increasing agricultural productivity [short run – climate, low global stocks]

18 The biofuels contribution Biofuels –Bioethanol – alcohol derived from sugar or starch crops by fermentation –Biodiesel – derived from vegetable oils by reaction with methanol Biomass and bioenergy Energy (oil) prices set a floor price for some agricultural commodities… … but also set a ceiling price Long term, food price increases will move in line with real energy price increases

19 The market opportunity for biofuels Developing countries can: Produce their own domestic transportation fuels, improving energy security Take advantage of export markets with unlimited demand Lower GHG emissions and assist move to low-carbon economy Create new jobs in rural economies

20 Problems with developing biofuels The effect on other land uses of production of energy crops Environmental stresses of intensifying land use Effects on food prices, particularly for net food importing countries Inclusion of small producers to ensure they benefit from the dynamism of the new sector

21 Trade issues Trade between efficient tropical producers and OECD countries will be mutually beneficial But is mostly absent due to high import tariffs and production subsidies Recall EU has low tariffs on biodiesel but high (45-65%) tariff on bioethanol Whether to allow easier bioethanol imports divides EU countries. –Those in favour point to the more favourable energy and GHG balances of Brazilian ethanol –Those opposed (France and Germany) put more emphasis on the potential gains to their own farmers

22 Food security – a major issue Food vs fuel – an old debate –During the 1970s – should we stop eating meat to make more grain available for poor people? –During the 2000s – should we stop driving cars to make more grain available for poor people Concern that rising food prices will make it more difficult for the poor to purchase food There are lots of good reasons why it might be good to eat less meat or drive less often, but would it actually contribute to reduced hunger?

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24 Food security impacts UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food –Biofuels a crime against humanity –has called for 5-year moratorium on increased biofuel production But income effects from energy crop cultivation can potentially offset the short- term negative impacts on poor consumers

25 Who are the poor in developing countries? 80% of food-insecure people are in rural areas –50% are small farmers –20% are landless farm workers –10% are pastoralists, fishermen or forest gatherers Energising the economic viability of rural areas through agriculture has significant potential to reduce poverty and hunger Poverty multiplier of agricultural-led growth far higher than for other forms of growth (minerals, industry)

26 World food prices – the CAP analogy NGOs have long campaigned against the EUs export subsidies on food, on the grounds that they depressed world market prices for poor country producers Higher food prices due to biofuel demand, for example, have the potential to far outweigh the price-depressing effects of rich country agricultural policies

27 Food security concerns Higher food prices raise the expenditure requirements of the poor, but they also contribute to higher incomes and more jobs for food producers Potential now exists to reverse the decades-long neglect of agricultural and rural development in many developing countries

28 But winners and losers… Between countries –If food prices move in tandem with energy prices, then countries gain or lose depending on whether they are net energy exporters and/or net food exporters –Many least developed countries are BOTH net food AND energy importers

29 Winners and losers… Within countries –Only 50% of the food insecure are small farmers –Other 50% are potentially food purchasers –Need to take on board interests of the urban poor plus other marginalised groups –Need to assess the gender impact of rising food prices on division of labour and intra- household distribution

30 Getting poor families involved Role for public policy –Resource and land rights of vulnerable groups and protected forests are often weak –Encouraging contract farming and outgrower schemes –Improving infrastructure, transportation, market coordination, investment in research –Promoting competition in the marketing chain to ensure that higher prices really do reach the poor –Trade certification schemes (biofuels)

31 Are rising world food prices a threat to the MDG hunger target? Answer: Possibly, but can be a great opportunity to help meet those targets Rising world food prices represent a fantastic opportunity to revitalise agricultural and rural development in low income countries where the bulk of the worlds poor live and work..but clear strategies are needed to avoid squandering these opportunities..... and there is an important role and opportunity for Irish Aid


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