Thursday, October 7, 2010

5 steps to prevent another food crisis

  1. Countries with large grain stocks should release some of their reserves to calm domestic and global prices.When distributing public food supplies, it is important to properly target poor people.
  2. Effective social safety nets are needed to protect the most vulnerable groups, including women and children.In the long term, these safety nets should be combined with other interventions that increase productive capacity and improve the nutrition and health of the poor.
  3. Smallholder productivity enhancing mechanisms are needed to sustainably reduce hunger and poverty.Investments should be scaled up to improve smallholder access to inputs such as seeds and fertilizer, as well as financial and extension services and crop insurance. New agricultural technologies suitable for smallholders in developing countries should also be strongly promoted, and rural infrastructure should be strengthened to increase access to markets.
  4. An international working group comprised of key institutions should come together to regularly monitor food production, stocks, prices and policies.Close attention should be paid to the policies of large food importers and exporters. In particular, governments should be encouraged to eliminate existing export bans and refrain from imposing new ones.
  5. New institutional arrangements should be created to decrease price volatility, including a global physical grain reserve and regional reserves for specific commodities.IFPRI proposes the establishment of a global, coordinated physical grain reserve, which could be managed by the WFP. Regional reserves for specific commodities could be set up first, then scaled up to the global level. In addition, a global market-analysis unit can be created to help forecast prices, identify price abnormalities, and trigger market intervention.

More from IFPRI director general Shenggen Fan here