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An evolution in the middle: Examining the rise of multinational investment in smallholder grain trading in Zambia










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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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    Journal, magazine, bulletin
    Food Price Monitoring and Analysis (FPMA) Bulletin #3, 12 April 2022
    Monthly Report on Food Price Trends
    2022
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    International prices of wheat and coarse grains surged in March as the reduced exports from the Russian Federation and Ukraine worsened already tight global availabilities. Contrasting trends were evident across the market segments for rice, but overall, prices moved little in March. Across most of West Africa, prices of coarse grains continued to increase and were significantly higher year on year, amid lower cross-border trade flows and higher international prices of maize. Additional price support came from reduced outputs in the Sahel as well as from solid export demand in the coastal countries. In East Africa, prices of coarse grains remained firm or increased in March and were generally well above their year-earlier levels. Exceptionally high prices prevailed in South Sudan and the Sudan. In Far East Asia, in Sri Lanka, prices of rice and wheat flour continued to increase in March to new highs due to the depreciation of the national currency and the below-average 2022 “Maha” crop output. For wheat, the firmness in international markets provided additional support. In South America, prices of wheat continued to rise in March to levels ranging from 25 to 75 percent higher year on year, to reach record highs in some countries. The high price levels are due to strong international demand in exporting countries and elevated international quotations in net-importing countries.
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    Book (stand-alone)
    Pulse crops for sustainable farms in Sub-Saharan Africa 2018
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    Food insecurity in sub-Saharan Africa is a problem affecting 153 million individuals (ca. 25%). This problem could be worsen by the ongoing soil degradation, being cause by the reduction of soil organic matter and insufficient nutrient supply. Over 75% of the agricultural land in Africa could be classified as degraded by 2020. This situation can compromise food production in sub-Saharan Africa, both quantitatively and qualitatively, and the sustainability of existing agricultural production systems. The use of fertilizer could revert this situation; however, Africa has almost no capacity to produce fertilizers (African fertilizers production facilities work mainly in blending fertilizers) and therefore fertilizers are produced elsewhere outside Africa and transported from long distances at great expenses. This situation grants to sub-Saharan Africa farmers only a very limited access to fertilizers, thus increasing the risk of soil degradation. Pulses have a long history in sub-Saharan Africa due to their multiple benefits. Pulses, and legumes in general, can play an important role in agriculture because their ability to biologically fix atmospheric nitrogen and to enhance the biological turnover of phosphorous; thus they could become the cornerstone of sustainable agriculture in Africa. In this sense, there is a body of literature that points to diversification of existing production systems; particularly legumes species, which provides critical environmental services, including soil erosion control and soil nutrient recapitalization. This publication is a review of some of the promising strategies to support pulses cultivation and utilization on smallholder farms in sub-Saharan Africa. The review is part of the legacy of the International Year of Pulses (IYP), which sought to recognize the contribution that pulses make to human well-being and the environment. One challenge faced worldwide is that the diversity of pulses are not captured well in statistics. There is not a clear picture of what is grown and where, and this leads to an under-estimation of their importance for sub-Saharan Africa and consequently reduce research investment in pulses. Existing agricultural production systems are dominated by cereals, and represent opportunities for enhanced crop diversification, through promoting local and novel pulse varieties. Mixed-maize is a system that is rapidly growing and poses one such opportunity, particularly for beans. This is due in part to the large number of bean varieties that have been developed to meet local and regional market requirements, through decades long partnerships foster by Pan-Africa Bean Research Alliance (PABRA). Bean research has included pioneering participatory plant breeding, extension linked to participatory community organizations and value chains, as well as attention to informal seed systems. This example shows how pulse research can make a different on smallholder farms in sub-Saharan Africa, by broadening the range of genetic options and supporting innovation. There are many such farmerx approved varieties available that deserve greater promotion, as do technologies such as doubled up legume system innovation recently released by the Malawi government. At the same time, this review has highlighted that variety release has lagged for some pulse crops, and that there is urgent need for more research on adoption, barriers to adoption, and on impact of adoption. Research priorities suggested include greater recognition and attention to expanding properties associated with multipurpose types of pulses, which are popular in sub-Saharan Africa. Different types of pulses are needed for different functions and in general, multipurpose pulses are the best to respond to the diverse needs of farmers, including food, fuel and fodder, and ecosystem services such as pollination. There is a trade-off between the harvest index and other functions, which have too often been overlooked by researchers and decision makers who tend to focus almost exclusively on increasing grain yields. Pest tolerance, as well as extension of educational approaches and agronomic advice to strengthen integrated pest management (IPM) is another area urgently needing attention. Finally, the role of specific legumes and associated biochemical properties in promoting ecosystem health, community health – this is a crucial area for research that will provide urgently needed options for women farmers – and for sustainability of communities.

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