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Price Volatility in Agricultural Markets

Evidence, impact on food security and policy responses







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    Book (series)
    International grain reserves and other instruments to address volatility in grain markets
    Working paper presented at the World Grain Forum 2009 St. Petersburg/Russian Federation, 6-7 June 2009
    2013
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    The dramatic rise in global food prices in 2007/08 was widely viewed as a threat to global food and nutrition security that endangered millions of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable. It has also brought political instability to some countries and the prospect of unrest to many more. The rapid increase in world food prices was caused by a combination of cumulative effects of long-term trends, more recent supply and demand dynamics, and (governmental) responses that have exacerbated price volatility. This crisis has exposed existing and potential weaknesses and vulnerabilities of households, governments, and the international system to food and nutrition insecurity. The international community has responded with a range of initiatives and established instruments to assist the neediest nations. Major stakeholders worldwide continue to discuss potential instruments to address the recent food crisis and to prevent or reduce the impact of future crises. Besides a gricultural productivity improvement and national food self-sufficiency targets, physical grain stocks (“humanitarian food reserves”) have resurfaced in these discussions. And more recently, the idea of “a ‘virtual’ internationally coordinated reserve system for humanitarian purposes”—first mentioned in the G8 Leaders’ Statement on Global Food Security at the Hokkaido Toyako Summit on July 8, 2008—was added to the debate. In conjunction with the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, the Russian Federation will host, on June 6 and 7, 2009, the World Grain Forum 2009. During the Forum, which intends to shape a common vision of issues facing global food (grain) security and to inform future G8/G20 meetings, high-level discussions are expected to cover—inter alia—global grain production and marketing, food aid programs, new challenges of world trade in grain, and mechanisms for the stabilization of grain markets including an international grain reserve.In vie w of the controversies surrounding the topic of grain stocks and other instruments to reduce price volatility in (food) commodity markets, and at the request of the Organizing Committee of the World Grain Forum 2009, The World Bank (WB), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) (the three sponsoring organizations) have commissioned the present working paper on international grain reserves and oth er instruments to address volatility in grain markets. The purpose of this paper is to inform international debates on the occasion of the World Grain Forum 2009 on issues and options related to price volatility in (food) commodity markets with special reference to international grain reserves.
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    Price Volatility in Food and Agricultural Markets: A policy response 2011
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    Under the Food Security pillar of the Seoul Multi-year Action Plan on Development, the G20 “request that FAO, IFAD, IMF, OECD, UNCTAD, WFP, the World Bank and the WTO work with key stakeholders to develop options for G20 consideration on how to better mitigate and manage the risks associated with the price volatility of food and other agriculture commodities, without distorting market behaviour, ultimately to protect the most vulnerable”. This report has been prepared by FAO, IFAD, IMF, OECD, UN CTAD,WFP, the World Bank, the WTO, IFPRI and the UN HLTF. The approach taken in this report reflects the view of the collaborating international organisations that price volatility and its effects on food security is a complex issue with many dimensions, agricultural and non-agricultural, short and long-term, with highly differentiated impacts on consumers and producers in developed and developing countries. The report begins with a discussion of volatility and of the ways in which volatility af fects countries, businesses, consumers and farmers.
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    The 2007-08 Rice Price Crisis
    How policies drove up prices... and how they can help stabilise the market
    2011
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    After increasing slowly and steadily from historic lows, world rice prices tripled in just six months during 2007-08. The price surge caused much anxiety because so many of the world’s poor are rice consumers. And it caught many by surprise as market fundamentals were sound. Indeed, it was government policies, rather than changes in the production and consumption of rice, that drove the surge. This suggests that improved government policies can help avert such crises in the future.

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