Topic: food and agriculture

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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Helping farmers see their climate future: The Two Degrees Up project

How do you help farmers prepare for climate change? Current climate models, while improving, are still too general and full of caveats and uncertainties to give exact farm-by-farm predictions on temperature, rainfall etc. But if you’re a farmer, you need to think ahead, for example, when deciding whether to plant crops like coffee, which can […]

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On Al Jazeera's sofa with David Frost and Carl Lewis

Working for an NGO can be pretty routine sometimes – meetings, papers, teleconferences. And then the press office phones up and asks ‘would you mind going on Al Jazeera to discuss the food price crisis with Sir David Frost and Carl Lewis?’ Hell yeah. For those of you who are too young to remember, Carl […]

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Small farmers in development: a great new overview

I’ve known Sophia Murphy of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy for over a decade, since we worked together on the launch of the (still uncompleted) Doha Trade Round, and I’m a big fan. She has consistently been one of the most thoughtful and nuanced commentators on agricultural in general and the role of […]

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African public opinion on food security and the MDGs

I heard a really interesting presentation by Andrew Rzepa of the Gallup opinion poll company recently, sampling public views in 2009 in 18 Sub-Saharan African countries with the following questions: · Could you please rank the following elements on this card in order of importance for you as an individual? 1 being the most important and […]

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The new Future of Food and Farming Report: excellent diagnosis; patchy cure; no power and politics

I attended the launch at the UK Treasury this week of The Future of Food and Farming: Challenges and Choices for Global Sustainability. It’s a high level UK government report from some top scientists, and should have significant influence over the next few years on much of the terrain Oxfam will be exploring in its […]

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The Upside of High Food Prices

Nice pieces from agricultural economist Steve Wiggins on the ODI and Guardian blogs, which I quote at length, because I think it’s an important correction to the discussion on the current food price spike. ‘In 2008 developing countries, and poor people within them, were hit hard by the price spike in the international cereals market. Once […]

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