Topic: food and agriculture

State of the World report 2011 – innovation but no politics

Yesterday the WorldWatch Institute launched its new State of the World 2011 report, (or at least the overview chapter, which is the only one I can find online – if people can point to an online downloadable version, please help me out here). The overall report website’s here, but as a confirmed techno-neanderthal, I found […]

Read More »

The food price crisis and the World Bank's blind spots

World Bank President Robert Zoellick, or at least his press team, responded promptly to last week’s concerns on a new food price spike with a comment piece in the FT. It’s fascinating as much for what is missing as for what is in there. On the plus side, Zoellick gives due priority to food as […]

Read More »

World food prices hit record high, so why no riots?

According to the Financial Times, the FAO has just reported that world food prices are now higher than their peak during the ‘food price crisis’ of 2008 (see graph). But the last spike was marked by riots in some 30 countries, global emergency meetings, new initiatives etc. Why is everything so quiet this time around? […]

Read More »

How fertiliser subsidies have transformed Malawi

Max Lawson is Head of Development Finance and Public Services for Oxfam GB When I lived in Malawi in 2002, the outlook was bleak. The received wisdom was that Malawi had a structural food deficit and for the foreseeable future would face periodic famines and chronic food insecurity. Our humanitarian department was thinking of setting […]

Read More »

The new World Health Report: Universal health care is possible!

Anna Marriott is Health Policy Advisor for the Development Finance and Public Services Team at Oxfam. The international health community had been long-awaiting last week’s launch in Berlin of the 2010 World Health Report. Its theme was how to finance health care to achieve universal coverage. Oxfam and others began with a stunt in front of […]

Read More »

How can the global system manage scarcity?

Alex Evans is on a bit of a roll at the moment, with an excellent new paper on ‘Globalization and Scarcity: Multilateralism for a World with Limits’. It’s a great summary of the problems created by the threat of scarcity of food, land, water, energy, and ‘airspace’ (for greenhouse gas emissions). He confines his solutions […]

Read More »

Global price chaos – is another food crisis on the way?

Today in the FT: “Sugar prices suffered their biggest one-day sell-off in 30 years on Thursday, tumbling by as much as 11 per cent after speculators pulled out from the market in the wake of dizzying gains. The sell-off, which came just hours after the sweetener hit a 30-year high, started after the European Commission […]

Read More »

Some good news from Africa: Burkina Faso's farming miracle

Just been reading ‘Helping Africa to Feed Itself: Promoting Agriculture to Reduce Poverty and Hunger’, a paper by Steve Wiggins and Henri Leturque, both of the ODI. It’s a brilliant and to my mind, very fair overview, with one of its main messages being that regional generalizations about Africa are usually misleading – some subregions […]

Read More »

Agriculture is key to development – why I (partly) disagree with Owen Barder

It was World Food Day on Saturday, in case you missed it, and Owen Barder had a typically thought-provoking reflection on the links between agriculture and development. He starts off by quoting Amartya Sen’s words from 30 years ago, “Starvation is the characteristic of some people not having enough food to eat. It is not the characteristic […]

Read More »

Is Obesity a Development Issue?

At a recent meeting of Oxfam’s country directors, I asked if they thought Oxfam should treat obesity as a development issue, just another form of ‘mal-nutrition’. The reaction was pretty negative. Innocent Nkata, from South Africa (left), summed it up by saying that whereas hunger was an issue of rights, obesity is a ‘question of […]

Read More »

How can Ethiopia’s coffee farmers get more from your $3 latte?

According to legend Kaldi (left), a 9th Century Ethiopian goatherd, discovered coffee when he saw his flock start leaping around after nibbling the bright red berries of a certain bush. He gave them a try, and the ensuing buzz prompted him to bring the berries to an Islamic holy man in a nearby monastery. The holy […]

Read More »

Should we buy roses from Ethiopia?

OK, back to Ethiopia week. On leaving Addis, we head off to the Rift Valley on one of Ethiopia’s many excellent roads (shame about the driving…) to an enormous flower farm owned by a company called Sher, which rents them out to three large Dutch flower companies, including Herburg Roses Ethiopia plc, who we are […]

Read More »