Saturday, February 19, 2011


Shenggen Fan is guest bloger for the World Economic Forum. He is Director-General, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and a participant at the Annual Meeting

Food prices have risen sharply in recent months, sparking growing concern. Since June 2010, maize and wheat prices have increased by about 60 and 70 percent, respectively. Food inflation has also reached new heights in some countries.
These dynamics have the greatest impact on poor people, who spend 50-60% of their income on food. During the 2007-08 crisis, nearly 100 million people were pushed into hunger, raising the global total to over one billion. While this number declined when prices went back down, many are again at risk.
Urgent actions are required from global leaders to to stabilize domestic and global food markets and protect vulnerable groups. These include:
• Release grain stocks in countries with large reserves, and create a global emergency grain reserve to address short-term volatility.
• Provide effective social safety nets to protect the most vulnerable groups, including women and children.
• Invest in smallholder farmers’ productivity.
• Promote transparent, fair, and open global trade to enhance the efficiency of agricultural markets.
• Establish an international working group to monitor the world food situation.
In Davos, global leaders will discuss these and other proposals to reduce food price volatility. One avenue of progress will be the World Economic Forum’s New Vision for Agriculture initiative, which facilitates multi-stakeholder collaboration to achieve sustainable agricultural development and food security.

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