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  • on 29.11.2011
  • at 05:45 PM
  • by Randa Ghazy

Brussels Development Briefing: Food Price Volatility 0

The Brussels Development Briefing organised by CTA in cooperation with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the European Commission (DG DEVCO), the ACP Secretariat, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), Concord and various other partners, will take place on 30 November 2011 in Brussels and focus on food price volatility. Afronline.org will cover the event in collaboration with African independent newspapers.

Price volatility is one of the most critical economic and food security challenges facing global policymakers today. Moreover, spikes in food prices can have significant impact on incomes, markets, and nutrition worldwide. In extreme cases, food price volatility can have serious political and social repercussions; in the 2007-08 food price crisis, 33 countries saw violent riots and social unrest as a result of volatile food prices, while in 2011, food price spikes have been at least partially blamed for political turnover in Tunisia and Egypt, as well as riots in several other countries.

Extreme price fluctuations often lead to political and market overreaction such as export restrictions. While such policies are designed to protect the population of a particular country or region, they can have devastating consequences for global food security. Understanding the causes behind price volatility, and the policy options that exist for dealing with periods of volatile food prices, can significantly lessen the likelihood of policymakers engaging in such knee-jerk responses.

In recent years world food markets have been characterized by rising and more volatile prices. This situation has serious implications for poor and hungry people, who have little capacity to adjust to price spikes and rapid shifts. Price increases and volatility have arisen for three main reasons: increasing use of food crops for biofuels, extreme weather events and climate change, and increased volume of trading  in commodity futures markets.

These factors are exacerbated by highly concentrated export markets that leave the world’s staple food importers dependent on just a few countries, a historically low level of grain reserves, and a lack of timely information about the world food system that could help prevent overreaction to moderate shifts in supply and demand. Price increases and price volatility have been shown to cut into poor households’ spending on a range of essential goods and services and to reduce the calories they consume. It can also affect poor people’s nutrition by causing them to shift to cheaper, lower quality, and less micronutrient-dense foods.

Continue reading on Brussels Development Briefing’s website

The Briefing will start at 12 p.m. with a networking lunch; speeches will begin at 2 p.m..

It will be possible to follow the Briefing directly via Twitter updates on the right hand side of this website (reload the page to see updates) and by following the hashtag #BR25. Other than previously stated, it will unfortunately not be possible to follow via a live webstream. We apologise for the inconvenience.

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