Topic: food and agriculture

The death of Doha? But the WTO lives on.

This piece of mine appeared on the Guardian development page yesterday (plus here, I include a few afterthoughts at the end) “The Doha round of global trade talks, launched by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in November 2001 amid a surge of solidarity after the 9/11 attacks, is experiencing the long slide into irrelevance that […]

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Why the Economist is wrong on India and hunger: guest post from Swati Narayan

The Economist last week ran an article criticizing India’s ‘Right to Food’ legislation. Independent food policy specialist Swati Narayan responds. She also has a piece on the Right to Food on the Guardian’s website today. The Economist article ‘The Indian Exception’ is timely and asks just the right puzzling questions ― why is India an […]

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Africans and food security: what do opinion polls tells us?

I don’t normally associate opinion polls with development (apart from the exhaustive UK and other market research conducted by our campaigners) but in recent weeks a couple of powerpoints have swum in front of my glazed eyes showing some interesting results from opinion polls in large numbers of poor countries, conducted by Gallup and Globescan, […]

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Food prices and politics: the IMF agrees with Bob Marley

I usually prefer ‘man bites dog’ research that comes up with unexpected answers, but sometimes it’s helpful to have the opposite – number crunchers who back up what you always suspected, thereby increasing your certainty and confidence. Food Prices and Political Instability, a new paper from the IMF, is in the latter category. Some highlights, […]

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What’s New in Development?

An edited version of this piece went up on the Guardian Development website yesterday, summarizing the latest round of horizon-scanning powerpoints: How people understand and think about development is in a state of constant churn and upheaval. Some ideas are genuinely new, prompted by new technologies and ground-breaking political movements. Other ideas are old, previously […]

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Yemen: Arab Spring meets Fragile State + Resource Constraints

Our regional director for the Middle East, Olga Ghazaryan, recently pointed out just how many development buzzwords are being bloodily explored in her region right now – transition to democracy in Egypt; Responsibility to Protect in Libya, and Yemen is looking like a combination of revolution in a fragile state and a dystopian vision of […]

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Land grabs: what's in the contracts? And an Indian land grab in Ethiopia

One of the problems with so-called ‘land grabs’ is secrecy. Most of the contracts that seal such deals are hidden from public scrutiny, which makes it very hard to establish what is really going on. The International Institute for Environment and Development, which is rapidly becoming the ‘go to’ thinktank on a whole range of […]

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Genetics and food doesn't have to be just about GM: genetic markers

The most interesting article in the Economist special report on ‘Feeding the World’, reviewed here yesterday, was on the question of new technologies. Quote: ‘The only reliable way to produce more food is to use better technology’. Some excerpts here: “There will not be big gains in food production from taking in new land, using […]

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Feeding the 9 billion: where to agree/disagree with the Economist?

[Update: The author, John Parker’s, response to this post is here] This week’s Economist has a timely special report (accompanying editorial here) on the ‘Future of Food’, which definitely merits a couple of posts. I (along with hundreds of colleagues) have been developing the content for Oxfam’s forthcoming campaign on ‘food justice in a resource-constrained world’, […]

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Food prices: what's happening in local currencies and how are governments responding?

Most of the discussion around the renewed food price spike is conducted in terms of world prices, dollar denominated. But people buy food in local currencies, which may or may not follow the dollar trend. UNICEF has a helpful new (30 page) paper out which looks at local food prices across 58 developing countries in […]

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Food price crisis 2.0 – speculation, poverty impact, African land grabbing and the Chinese drought; inequality round-up; sticky culture; who emits how much CO2?: links I liked

First, some food price related pieces: Round and round we go on speculation – is it driving food price volatility or not? Tim Wise disagrees with Paul Krugman (a speculation sceptic – specscep?) Meanwhile, at the snarky end of things, Tim Worstall really doesn’t think much of the Guardian’s John Vidal and his ‘banks are killing […]

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Are food prices becoming more volatile? Yes, says the FAO (but it doesn't know what to do about it)

The latest in the excellent two pagers from the FAO’s ‘Economic and Social Perspectives’ series looks at price volatility in agricultural markets. It finds that over recent decades, staple food prices have indeed become more volatile. The graph shows a measure of volatility – the market’s expectation of how much the price of a commodity […]

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