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Bill Pritchard

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					‘Rewriting the global food
equation’, but to what script?
Priorities and strategic choices in
addressing food insecurity within
vulnerable populations

Associate Professor Bill Pritchard
University of Sydney
Four Propositions
1. The Global Food Crisis reflects what appears to be a
   watershed moment in the way humanity and the global
   food system relate. This is not a Malthusian dilemma
   of ‗too many people for not enough food‘; it is a crisis
   of entitlements.
2. Until 2006-07, mainstream opinion assumed that
   steady improvements to food security would be paved
   on gradual improvements to production, logistics and
   trade; that foods would become more accessible to
   more people. The price bubble and now the global
   recession mark a backwards step in these processes
   over the short term. Intensified appreciation of the
   environmental limits attached to the existing global
   food system poses doubts about our collective ability to
   address global food security over the medium term.
Four Propositions
3. There is no inevitability in the policy responses
   to these circumstances. There are policy
   options that need to be conceptualized,
   articulated and implemented.
4. For Antipodean policy-makers, it can be
   alluring to think that the global agricultural
   trade liberalization agenda dovetails with the
   global food crisis agenda. However, caution
   must be exercised in linking these two
Framing the problem

Millennium Development Goals
• Target 1.C: Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the
  proportion of people who suffer from hunger.
  Indicators for progress:

 ▫ 1.9 Proportion of population below minimum level
   of dietary energy consumption
      Dietary Energy Consumption
     • Two components1: (i) income [data derived from
       national household surveys incl. food consumption]
       and (ii) minimum dietary energy requirements
       [MDER] (derived from WHO guidelines)2

1.   Sibrian, R. (2009) ‗Indicators on undernourishment and critical food poverty at national and sub-national
     levels‘ Wye City Group on Statistics on Rural Development and Agriculture Household Income, Second
     Meeting, Italy, Rome, 11-12 June,
2.   MDERs ―differ by gender and age, and for different levels of physical activity. Accordingly, minimum dietary
     energy requirements, the amount of energy needed for light activity and minimum acceptable weight for
     attained-height, vary by country, and from year to year depending on the gender and age structure of the
     population.‖ FAO (2008) FAO Methodology for the Measurement of Food Deprivation. Updating the MDER,
     • The proportion of population below the minimum
       level of DEC.
     • USDA: 2 100 kilocalories per person per day.1
     • FAO: ―values depend on the age and gender
       distribution in each country, typically ranging from
       as low as 1 600 to 2 000 kilocalories per person per

1.   Rosen S., Shapouri, S., Quanbeck, K. and Meade., B. (2008) Food Security Assessment 2007, USDA ERS
     Report GFA-19 ,
2.   MDERs ―differ by gender and age, and for different levels of physical activity. Accordingly, minimum dietary
     energy requirements, the amount of energy needed for light activity and minimum acceptable weight for
     attained-height, vary by country, and from year to year depending on the gender and age structure of the
     population.‖ FAO (2008) FAO Methodology for the Measurement of Food Deprivation. Updating the MDER,
     Food Insecurity
      • ―FAO‘s vision of a world without hunger is one in which
        most people are able, by themselves, to obtain the food
        they need for an active and healthy life, and where social
        safety nets ensure that those who lack resources still get
        enough to eat.‖ (FAO, 2007)
      • An aspirational statement converting DEC to policy
        frameworks. Food insecurity hinges on food:
         ▫   Access
         ▫   Availability
         ▫   Utilization
         ▫   (and) Stability

1.   FAO (2007) National Programmes for Food Security: FAO’s Vision of a World without Hunger. FAO, Rome.
     Definition based on 1996 World Food Summit and reiterated in many later official documents.
What’s New?
      ‘The Food Crisis’
       • ―World hunger is projected to reach a historic high in 2009
         with 1,020 million people going hungry every day, according
         to new estimates published by the FAO today‖ (19 June,
       • No question that there is a ‗food crisis‘ in 2009.
       • But in 2003, there were almost 900 million people on the
         planet undernourished? Was it a crisis then?
       • The difference is that the situation has rapidly deteriorated
       • ‗Rewriting the global food equation‘.2

1.   FAO (2009) 1.02 billion people hungry, Media Release 10 June.
2.   Von Braun, J. (2007) The World Food Situation: New Driving Forces and Required Actions, IFPRI,
1. FAO (2008) The State of Food Insecurity 2008, page 6.
                                Numbers of hungry people in the world

Source: FAO (2009) 1.02 billion hungry, Media Release, June.
     … drivers?

1.   Von Braun, J. (2008) Food and Financial Crises: Implications for Agriculture and the Poor, Food Policy
     Report. Page 3.
      Double jeopardy…
     • Synchronized
       market rises in
       food and oil
       sectors, 2006-08.

1.   World Bank (2008) Double Jeopardy: Responding to High Food and Fuel Prices, Paper for G-8 Summit,
     Hokkaido, June .
     The biofuel effect
     • ―Cereals and vegetable oils were diverted to biofuels precisely
       when other factors (weather shocks and stock depletion) were
       contributing to a tighter supply–demand balance… The
       quantities involved in cereals converted into biofuels are still
       fairly small and by themselves would not have had a major
       impact on the aggregate supply–demand balance. In tight
       conditions of that balance, however, even small changes can
       cause large price swings given the low short-run price
       elasticities of both demand and supply typical of most
       agricultural products.‖ 1
     • IFPRI estimates that diversion of crops to biofuel contributed
       30% of the price rise in cereals and 39% of the price rise in
       maize, over the period 2000-07. 2

1.   Pp. 665-66 in Alexandratos, N. (2008) ‗Food price surges: possible causes, past experience, and longer term
     relevance‘, Population and Development Review, 34(4), pp. 663-97
2.   Rosegrant, M. (2008) ―Biofuels and grain prices: Impacts and policy responses,‖ testimony for the US Senate
     Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, 7 May IFPRI, Washington, DC.
1.   Pp. 665 in Alexandratos, N. (2008) ‗Food price surges: possible causes, past experience, and longer term
     relevance‘, Population and Development Review, 34(4), pp. 663-97
     Export bans in 2008 added to speculative
     positions on markets, aggravating instability

1.   World Bank (2008) Double Jeopardy: Responding to High Food and Fuel Prices, Paper for G-8 Summit,
     Hokkaido, June . Page 25.
Global recession now provides a new

• Net food buyer households previously hit by
  high food prices now hit by reduced employment
  opportunities and remittance flows
Does the world worry about hungry people?
  • When hunger and political instability intersect, it
    brings these issues to attention.
    ▫   Horn of Africa
    ▫   Egypt
    ▫   Zimbabwe
    ▫   Haiti
    ▫   India
    ▫   Madagascar

  • … connection to climate change – increases in mean
    temperatures and their link to precipitation and
    extreme weather events.
                  The ‘quiet tsunami’:
Naxalite (Maoist)insurgency and food insecurity in India
        The ricochet: Madagascar
     • The ‗land grab‘:
     • Foreign investment by
       private interests and
       sovereign wealth funds
       in land and water.
     • Daewoo land lease deal in
       Madagascar (1.9 million ha
       for cash crops and biofuels
       to be exported to Korea): led to
       coup d‘etat (March 2009) and
       subsequent cancellation of
       previous arrangements.

     • ―attention should be given to the leasing and purchase of agricultural land in
       developing countries, to ensure that local and traditional land use is
       respected‖ Communique of G8 Agriculture Ministers, Treviso, Italy, April

•UNCTAD World Investment Report 2009 (to be published, October 2009)
•Wilson Centre Conference 12 May 2009:
•International Institute for Sustainable Development (2009) A Thirst for Distant Lands (May 2009)

Image :

‘Rewriting the global food equation’…
but to what script?

• The global food crisis is like any other public
  policy concern;
  ▫ Actors face strategic choices in how they
    conceptualize, articulate and prioritize their
  ▫ Their strategic choices are informed by their own
    geopolitical positions and interests.
• There is a battle of ideas in terms of how these
  processes are executed.
A view from the

• Australia and New Zealand construct their engagement with
  global food systems through the prism of trade reform.
• It may appear alluring to construct Antipodean interventions in
  the global food crisis in ways that reinforce agri-trade messages
  used for wider purposes- an emphasis on the potential for agri-
  food trade liberalisation to improve global food security would
  serve both masters.
• How does a rhetoric of agricultural trade reform intersect with
  the global food crisis?
      … 1996: The World Food Summit in
      Rome and the 1st year of the WTO
        ―I want to advance the proposition
        that trade liberalisation is a necessary
        condition for global food security as we
        look toward the food supply challenges
        of 2020. This is not to say other things
        are not important, especially the role
        of agricultural research both privately
        and publicly funded, nor is it to
        suggest that foreign aid cannot help. It
        is to suggest that all these efforts will
        come to little if prices and incentives
        to invest are disturbed by
        protectionist agricultural and other
        trade policies.‖ 1
1. Page 55. Raby, G. (1996) Food Security and Agricultural Trade Liberalisation, in J. Haldane (ed) Global Food Security:
Implications for Australia, ACIAR Canberra, pp. 55-64.
      Unpacking liberalisation
     1.     Agendas to restrict the export of (‗dumped‘) subsidized Northern
            agricultural surpluses; beneficial across-the-board. (Evidence –
            impact of NAFTA subsidized maize on Mexico‘s poor.1)
     2.     Agendas to improved market access to affluent nations; generally
            beneficial to developing countries at the national level, measured in
            GDP, but debatable for food insecure populations.2
     3.     Some aspects of ‗what‘s on the table‘ at Doha have dubious effects.
            (For example, dilution of Safeguard measures: Note Indian
            opposition, June 2008)
     4.     Global trade liberalisation isn‘t the tool for addressing key issues
            facing vulnerable populations. To pretend it is, misreads the problem.

1. UNDP (1997) Mexico: Globalisation and liberalisation: Implications for poverty, distribution and inequality, UNDP Occasional
   Paper 32.
2. Berry, A. (2001), ‗When Do Agricultural Exports Help the Rural Poor? A Political-Economy Approach‘, Oxford Development
   Studies, Vol. 29(2), pp.125-44.
     • Breakneck pace of economic
     • Liberalising economy
     • Rapidly growing middle
       class… yet

     • Food insecurity has
     • Little evidence of any
       substantive trickle down of
       economic benefits to the
       most food insecure in the        


1. Pp. 15 & 48. FAO (2008) The State of Food Insecurity 2007, FAO, Rome.
2. Deaton, A. & Drèze, J. (2009) Food and nutrition in India: Facts and interpretation,
Economic and Political Weekly, 44(7), pp. 42-65
Leadership from multilateral agencies
• ‗Twin track‘ approach 1

• “Governments, donors, the United Nations, non-governmental
  organizations, civil society and the private sector must
  immediately combine their efforts in a strategic, twin-track
  approach to address the impact of high food prices on
  hunger. This should include: (i) measures to enable the
  agriculture sector, especially smallholders in developing
  countries, to respond to the high prices; and (ii) carefully
  targeted safety nets and social protection programmes for the
  most food-insecure and vulnerable. This is a global challenge
  requiring a global response”.
 1. FAO (2008) The State of Food Insecurity 2008, page 2 (and elsewhere).
    Twin-track for pro-poor outcomes
      • The Sustainable Livelihoods approach.
      • Understand the geographies, sociologies and economics
        of vulnerability. (FIVIMS)1
      • Differentiation within and across communities; and over
        time (resilience and adaptation).
      • The dynamics of how smallholder producers and
        landless people relate to food systems (local and wider
        commercial markets, and subsistence)
      • World Bank recognition of the need to understand
        institutional settings.2

1. Food Insecurity Vulnerability Information and Mapping.
2. World Bank (2008) Agriculture for Development: The World Development Report, WB, Washington.
FAO (2008) State of Food and Agriculture 2008, FAO, Rome, page 76.
      The paradox of the farm sector
      benefiting but rural households losing
       • Modeling of the impact of food price increases in
         rural India indicate that the farm sector as a
         whole gains net incomes, but the majority of
         rural households have their net incomes
           ▫ Why? Because of inequality on farm holding sizes
             (large farms pocket most of the benefits) plus the
             fact that a significant share of India‘s population
             are landless or smallholders who are net food
1.   Alain de Janvry, Ethan Ligon and Elizabeth Sadoulet (2008) Poverty in developing nations, Giannini Foundation
     Symposium: Causes and Consequences of the Food Price Crisis, October 10, Berkeley, at:
Lessons learned? Rudd Government responses
     • 2009 Budget announced the ‗Food Security through Rural
       Development‘ program: $464.3 million over four years ―to
       support increases in food production globally and strengthen the
       ability of countries in the Asia-Pacific and Africa to address food
     • Three components:
        ▫ Lift agricultural productivity, by working with other donors and
          research institutions using environmentally sustainable approaches
        ▫ Improve rural livelihoods, through improving the functioning of
          markets in ways that increase job opportunities and incomes for the
          rural poor.
        ▫ Build community resilience, through supporting social protection
          mechanisms to enable vulnerable people to withstand natural and
          economic shocks that increase food prices. The initiative will
          strengthen and expand existing formal and informal social protection
          programs — such as school feeding programs, micro-insurance, crop
          insurance and food and cash-for-work programs — implemented by
          governments, NGOs and church groups, and support the creation of
          new mechanisms where none exist.
1.   AusAID (2009) 2009-10 International Development Assistance Budget, Media Release, 12 May.
Key Insights from Part Three
• There are strategic choices in policy responses
• An emerging consensus in leading analysts and
  agencies for a twin-tracked livelihoods approach
  sensitive to local circumstances

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