Tag Archives: food security

Food security and world trade policy: How they are linked

Food security and world trade policy: How they are linked

Global food security is possible when food can move freely from areas of surplus to areas of demand

Free global agriculture trade is critically important to addressing food insecurity. The world will raise the most food the most economically and in the most environmentally responsible way when farmers plant the right crops for their local climate and soils using the right technology, then trade with others for the benefit of all. By encouraging free trade in a fair, rigorously enforced system, governments can help ensure that world food production thrives and that food surpluses reach areas of food deficit.

This Cargill infographic demonstrates the importance of world food flows – and the benefits that ensue when food moves freely from nation to nation.

by anric



Coming agri boom garners investor attention

Coming agri boom garners investor attention

Calculating the amount of land planted with agri produce, 2012 should have seen the biggest harvests ever in the US, the world’s largest grain exporter. But it did not exactly happen like that. The country’s corn-belt was hit by the worst droughts since the 1930s and the impact on global food markets was exacerbated by dry weather in Russia and Brazil.

This is set to lead to a period of “agflation”, with food prices due to hit new record highs in 2013, according to Rabobank’s Food and Agribusiness Research unit.

The current bout of price rises is mainly affecting commodities that are largely used in animal feed such as corn and soybeans, as opposed to the last bout of food inflation in 2008, when the price of staple foods such as wheat, maize and rice doubled, hitting the world’s poor hardest.

Agricultural companies however are priced significantly below their long term averages as equity investors have not yet adjusted to this new normal.

“Demand for agricultural commodities is expected to outweigh supply as these key macro trends continue,” says a report from the UN’s Principles for Responsible Investment*.

As well as pension funds, the sector is attracting insurance companies and sovereign wealth funds, no doubt aided by the increasing press coverage, educational efforts by funds like the Food and Water funds from Global Fund Exchange and a number of investor conferences on the subject.

On February 26th and 27th, Anric Blatt, portfolio manager of the Food and Water focused AquaTerra fund will be speaking at the Global Ag Conference in Abu Dhabi. Click here to read more about the conference, download the program and register.

Global AgInvesting Middle East (February 25-27, 2013) offers a comprehensive overview of agriculture investment opportunities, risks, and return profiles across all major global production regions, as well as strategies for diversified ag portfolios including regional variation, private equity, liquid investments, water, and protein plays. Produced by HighQuest Partners, GAI Middle East will highlight strategies for ensuring food security, including outsourcing and technological advances. Panel discussions will provide attendees with a picture of the agriculture investing landscape and a clear idea of where the real money is moving in the space.

GAI Middle East is produced in conjunction with the Food Security Center of Abu Dhabi

by Anric


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Investing in agriculture to feed the world

As food prices soar in response to growing demand and crop failures in the US after the worst drought since the 1930s, investing in agriculture, or agribusinesses if you want to diversify along the value chain, is becoming more and more popular. There is plenty of scope for the money to be usefully invested. According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, “it is estimated that net investments of $83bn a year must be made in the agriculture sector of developing countries if there is to be enough food to feed the world population of 9.1bn in 2050”.

Although investing in farming may be necessary to help feed the world, there are many critics of the practice, concerned the industrialization of farming will lead to environmental and social damage as intensive, fertilizer-dependent practices will degrade soil and push small farmers into poverty.

Farmland prices all around the world have soared in recent years. Here are just a  few of the recent headlines

From 2001 to 2011, the price of farmland in the UK has tripled due to the demand for agricultural commodities. In Canada, since 2006, farmland prices have risen by an average of eight percent per year.

Is it a bubble ?  Maybe, but when you hear a well respected scientist say that “in the next 50 years we will need to produce as much food as has been consumed over our entire human history.” Where else can the demand / supply imbalance lead ?

It is hard for me to comprehend that in the next 50 years we will need toproduce as much food as has been consumed over our entire human history. Dr Megan Clark, Chief Executive CSIRO

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation says there is an urgent need for significant and long-term investment in farming technology and the infrastructure to support reliable food supplies. Sustainable agriculture funds are there to supply that need.

Anric Blatt, co-portfolio manager of the AquaTerra Fund, a multi manager fund, focused on imperative must-outcomes likes food, water and scarce resources feels that combining water and food investment themes allows for diversification, reduction in volatility and provides a deeper scope for his portfolios.

The currently approved and already earmarked spending by government and private sector institutions into food and water sectors alone will make these investments one of the most attractive sectors going forward. Anric Blatt, Chairman, Global Fund Exchange


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Drought in India: Disrupted rhythms of nomadic family life

The drought in India separates nomadic families by disrupting the rhythms of the seasons. Over a saucer of chai at the camp of some Maldhari tribeswomen, our blogger finds out nomads like to go home, too, but can’t without the monsoon season in full gush.

By , Guest blogger

Rabari cattle herder Lavuben Rozia and her young son, forced to migrate with their family’s herds due to severe drought in Gujarat, India. by Michael Benanav

I’ve been catching the reports that the drought in the western United States is the worst to hit the region since the Dust Bowl years; how farmers are struggling; how livestock is suffering. The situation is similar where I’ve been traveling: in the Indian state of Gujarat, where some places are drier than they’ve been in decades.

The monsoon season, which usually soaks Gujarat with rain from mid-June through August, is a key element of the rhythm of life here: it waters farms, grasslands, and forests, fills cisterns and lakes, and cultural traditions and social rituals are timed to sync with it. But this year, it’s simply failed to materialize in some regions, causing inconvenience for some, panic for others – especially those who rely on agriculture.

Among those hardest hit are families from the Maldhari tribes, some 5 million people including the Rabaris and Bharwads, who herd cattle, camels, sheep, and goats. Though many Maldharis migrate for half the year or more, moving from place to place in search of fodder for their animals, most return to their home villages for a few months (from about July to November) during and after the annual monsoon, as the grasses grow lush from the rain.

NOAA says July was the hottest month in at least the 118 years that people have been keeping track. For most Americans, it sure seemed that way.

Traveling in August through the Saurashtra region, which has received less than 20 percent of its average annual rainfall, I could easily see the impact of the drought.  Along the asphalt roads that traverse a flat patchwork of fields and open spaces, dotted occasionally with trees, thousands of cows and water buffaloes were marching, steered by men in turbans who wore thick silver bracelets, gold earrings, and carried large bamboo sticks. And they were heading away from their villages. There was simply no fodder for their animals near their homes.

Read entire blog post by Michael Bennav

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Posted by on September 7, 2012 in Agriculture, Water


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Food Crisis 2.0

The United States, Mexico — which is currently chairing the G-20 — and France held a conference call Monday to discuss a report requested by France on food prices. They also discussed whether G-20 states should hold an emergency Rapid Response Forum in order to coordinate trade policy on food amid a growing grain shortage. Countries and commodity traders all over the world are awaiting the mid-September release of the report, compiled by the Agricultural Market Information System, before they determine their next steps in dealing with the food crisis.

While farmers on the Indian subcontinent are still dealing with the consequences of a late monsoon season, the American heartland is experiencing the worst drought in more than half a century. As a result, wheat, corn and soybean prices are approaching all-time highs. Drought and flood conditions in Russia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine, along with the looming threat of wildfires in the Russian grain belt, are meanwhile provoking fears that the world’s third-largest wheat producer will decide to ban exports — as it did in 2008 and 2010 — and pressure its grain-producing neighbors to do the same. This would leave grain consumers in politically volatile parts of the world vulnerable to harmful consequences.

Though the hit to the grain markets so far does not appear to be as severe as the food crisis four years ago, G-20 leaders are trying to avoid exacerbating the current situation; they are encouraging trade policymakers around the world to keep cool heads and avoid the kind of market speculation and food hoarding that will dwindle supply, drive up prices even further and lead to food riots. But food policy is not particularly conducive to a multinational, good-faith effort. There’s a reason why the G-20’s Rapid Response Forum doesn’t have the authority to issue anything beyond recommendations.

The grain trade represents geopolitics in its most primal form. People need food to eat. States need to grow and distribute food to feed their people. States with naturally integrated river systems and abundant farmland have a much easier time feeding their people and supplying overseas markets. Even in times of severe drought, the lands fed by the arterial Mississippi River generate massive supplies of staple grains for the United States and its global clientele. States with harsh climates, poor soil and uncompromising geography between their farmland and population centers will generally have a much harder time keeping their populations fed and will thus have to resort to more extraordinary measures to hold onto power.

Russia’s urban core lies in Muscovy on the North European Plain, while the Russian breadbasket, supported by the Volga River, lies farther south, from the Black Sea across the northern Caucasus to western Kazakhstan. A Ukrainian or Kazakh farmer in the southern grain belt isn’t likely to relate to Moscow the way an urban resident of Saint Petersburg does, which means sometimes extreme measures have to be taken to ensure that food reaches markets. In the 1930s, Joseph Stalin collectivized peasant farms and literally starved the countryside. Today, Russia has created a Customs Union to try to fold Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus into a trading bloc that would give Moscow heavy influence over the grain trade in the former Soviet periphery. By establishing control over these countries’ wheat exports, Moscow would effectively control 15 percent of global wheat production and 16 percent of global exports. There is a reason why Lenin at one time referred to grain as “the currency of currencies.”

When food supply is in question, it is very difficult to imagine any state putting another state’s interests before its own. In the same way that Russia banned wheat exports in 2010, India banned rice exports in 2008; meanwhile, large delegations of Arab and Asian businessmen have been buying up farmland abroad in an effort to procure a safety net for their own countries’ food production. A state will do whatever is necessary to feed its people, without much regard for needs elsewhere around the globe.

These kinds of food scares will be a chronic occurrence for the next decade or so. Weather fluctuations, biofuels development and food stockpiling for growing populations will continue to stress a global food supply produced by only a handful of major grain exporters. Technological advancements have improved crop yields and expanded global trade in foodstuffs. This has allowed the kind of development that has fueled population growth so rapidly that developing countries have outstripped their own production capacity, leaving them all the more vulnerable to unexpected fluctuations in the grain markets.

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Posted by on August 28, 2012 in Agriculture, Water


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Significant Growth in Food Demand will outstrip even population growth

The recent large increases in the prices of agricultural commodities have focused the world’s attention on the price and availability of food to an extent not seen for the last 30 years. Thelow prices that have been with us since the mid-1980s lulled most of us all into forgetting about the urgency of the task that the world faces in expanding agricultural production enough to meet projected food demand.

Although there are large amounts of uncultivated land in Brazil, Africa, and underutilized land in Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia, much of the increase in food production will come about from increased agricultural productivity. Increased crop yields and livestock feed efficiencies are largely responsible for the fact that we have been able to sharply reduce malnutrition rates in the world over the last 40 years. The problem facing the world in the next 40 years is not whether we can produce enough calories for a growing population but whether we can produce the type of food that people with rising incomes will want to eat at an affordable price.

As incomes grow, people move away from a diet consisting largely of staple food crops (such as rice, wheat, corn, vegetable oil, and legumes) into a diet that includes more fish, meat, dairy products, and eggs. This higher-income diet requires the feeding of livestock. Cattle and sheep can be fed grass or grain. Hogs, poultry, and fish must be fed grains and protein meal. Thus, it is likely that the next 40 years will require increasing amounts of grazing land and much higher production of feed grains and oilseeds to meet increasing demands for a higher-protein diet. The accompanying graph shows the implications of this increased demand.

The graph shows three measures of the past and likely future growth in food demand. All three measures are calibrated to have a value of 100 in 1966. The bottom line simply measures the increase in food demand from a growing population. This is an accurate measure for food demand if the world’s diet stays constant at its 1966 level. As shown, food demand measured by population growth nearly doubled from 1966 to the present. It is projected to increase another 39 percent by 2050.

However, food demand will grow by more than population growth. Many people did not consume an adequate amount of calories in 1966. Per capita calorie consumption increased by 23 percent from 1966 to the present because of higher incomes and lower food prices. This increase in per capita caloric consumption despite a doubling of the world’s population is a major success story. Because much of the world consumes an adequate number of calories today, the next 40 years should see only a modest growth in per capita caloric consumption. But a greater proportion of calories will be consumed in the form of animal protein. Because it takes many calories of feed to make a calorie of animal protein, the demand for food as measured in terms of feed grain equivalents will grow much more rapidly than either growth in population or caloric consumption.

If in 2050 people in low-income countries, including China and India, consume as much meat and dairy as was consumed per person in the United States and Europe in 1966, and if feed conversion efficiencies improve at the same rate from 2009 to 2050 as they did from 1966 to 2008, then demand for feed grains will more than double between now and 2050. This last measure is perhaps the most useful indicator of the task that faces us

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Posted by on August 9, 2012 in Agriculture


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Yemen's worsening food crisis, on the brink…

CAIRO, 8 May 2012 (IRIN) – Yemen is heading for a major humanitarian crisis unless relief organizations quickly boost their response capacity, and donors, including wealthy neighbours, provide much-needed funding to contain rising malnutrition, disease and poverty.

“The humanitarian crisis in Yemen has reached a level where it affects millions of people, not only internally displaced people, refugees, and migrants, but also ordinary Yemeni families in all areas,” said a joint statement by international humanitarian actors, including UN agencies, the League of Arab States, and the Organisation of Islamic Conference, after a 6 May meeting in the Egyptian capital, Cairo.

Over the last two months, nearly 95,000 people have been forced to leave their homes as a result of two new conflicts. Since mid-February, an estimated 56,000 people (8,000 families) have been displaced in the south from Abyan Governorate, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). In the north, an estimated 38,000 people (5,500 families) have been displaced in Hajjah Governorate alone.

“Addressing the humanitarian needs of all these families is key to bringing stability back to Yemen and avoiding further deterioration,” the statement emphasized.
Raul Rosende, the head of OCHA in Yemen, told IRIN: “In 2011, the humanitarian situation in Yemen was bad. In 2012, things are worse. We have seen deterioration in the main indicators, and this is why we need to improve our humanitarian response.”

According to OCHA, some 44 percent of Yemen’s population – over 10 million people – are food insecure. Of that number, five million cannot produce or buy enough food. In Al Bayda Governorate, over 60 percent of the population are food insecure.

Alarm bells

Aid workers partly blame the situation on insecurity. More than 900 schools have closed, while damage to the health infrastructure and lack of vaccines and medicines has left a large number of children vulnerable to diseases like diarrhoea, cholera, polio and measles.

“This is a major humanitarian crisis,” said Lubna Alaman, the World Food Programme (WFP) country director. “We do not want to see the children dying.”

Most of the recently displaced families were forced out of their homes at short notice when fighting came close to their communities. “It is likely that these 13,500 new IDPs [internally displaced persons]… will remain displaced for a protracted period, possibly years,” OCHA said.

I think it is high time the affluent neighbours of Yemen came forward and contributed. If this does not happen, the humanitarian crisis can lead to further political instability.

In Abyan, fighting between government forces and the militant Ansar Al Sharia group has intensified, said the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Recent clashes in Lawdar (Abyan) have left hundreds of casualties and triggered a new wave of displacement. In Khanfar, people are leaving their homes because they fear more violence.

“The current security situation has hampered our access to certain areas, mainly in Abyan, and is making our work more difficult,” Yehia Khalil, the head of the ICRC sub-delegation in Aden, said on 3 May. “The intense fighting has slowed our aid distributions in Abyan. We are concerned about the situation in Lawdar, to which we hope to soon gain access so that we can respond to humanitarian needs.”

Related Article:

UN and NGOs appeal for Sahel aid as west Africa food crisis worsens

Aid agencies face funding shortfall to tackle hunger as drought in Sahel and political uncertainty worsen crisis for millions

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Posted by on June 21, 2012 in Agriculture, Videos


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