Wednesday, October 03, 2012

How does the world best prevent against shocks to food prices?

Food and grain prices hit record highs over the summer. This was helped in part by the drought in the United States.  The record high prices is prompting an emergency meeting of G-20 agricultural ministers to discuss the issue. The cost of food has dropped since the summer. Still, world leaders are debating what should be done to prevent steep price increases for the future.

France proposes returning to a food stockpile system, similar to how the U.S. has "strategic" stockpiles of oil. Other countries in E.U. disagree and say we should concentrate in increasing crop yields.

From Reuters Alert Net, writer Silvia Aloisi looks into this debate.
Building strategic agricultural stocks to curb market volatility, as proposed by France, would not be the most effective way to tame food prices, EU Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs said on Monday.
He said what was needed instead was an increase in food production in the world's poorest countries, which remain vulnerable to the threat of a new food crisis despite the recent easing in grain prices from record highs hit this summer.
Last month, French President Francois Hollande launched a global campaign to win support for creating strategic stockpiles of food commodities after a year of drought renewed fears of a new crisis in agricultural supplies.
Paris has also called an emergency meeting of G20 farm ministers for mid-October to discuss ways to curb price volatility.
"I believe it is one of the instruments but it is not the most effective," Piebalgs told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of an international cooperation conference in Milan when asked about the French stockpiles proposal.
"The answer to food insecurity is sufficient food production in the world's poorest regions," he said, adding that increasing investments in agriculture was the best way to keep a lid on prices.
"Resilience in farming, access to water, fighting against climate change, crops, access to the markets - it's a lot of elements, one element does not help sufficiently," he said.

No comments: