Ousmane Badiane on AFSI__ Donors' efforts in global food security
21 Feb 2012.
AFSI should have a life beyond 2012 — said IFPRI’s Africa director in an interview about the commitments made by global donors, and the steps necessary to meet the food security targets in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
// Speaker bio
Ousmane Badiane is the Africa Director for the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). In this role, he coordinates IFPRI’s work program in the areas of food policy research, capacity strengthening, and policy communications in Africa. He is also in charge of IFPRI’s partnerships with African institutions dealing with the above areas. Recently he participated at the Washington meeting of the L’Aquila Food Security Initiative (AFSI).
This brief on the ongoing food crisis in the Sahel outlines the pertinent issues in the region, looking at cereal prices, price spikes, emergency targeted aid and possible policy recommendations.
// Sahel brief main points
Cereal prices may continue to increase during the next months in Sahel countries. They could reach extremely high levels during the lean period. This scenario is not certain because maize imports from coastal countries might reduce the increase of millet, sorghum and maize prices in Sahel countries. However, there is a significant risk to experience a continuous increase in prices and very high price levels during the lean period. Two factors are pushing in this direction: seasonality and the high level of rice price on international markets. Indeed, prices have already reached very high levels in spite of the fact that the last harvests were only three months ago (in almost all the towns of Mali, millet, sorghum and maize prices have already reached or overcome the level they have during the lean period at the moment of the 2005 crisis). The seasonal dynamic of prices should lead them to increase until the new harvests (October – November 2012). This means that prices are likely to increase during the next nine months. The second factor that can lead prices of dried cereals (millet, sorghum and maize) to increase a lot is the high level of rice price on international markets. During the 2005 crisis, the price of imported rice played the role of a ceiling for the prices of millet, sorghum and maize. But this ceiling is much higher now than it used to be in 2005 (in Bamako, its level is currently 375 FCFA/kg compared to 275 FCFA/kg en 2005). So, there is a significant risk to have extremely high level of prices in few months for millet, sorghum and maize. This is a big concern because these cereals play a crucial role for the food security of the poorest households.
In Sahel, price spikes generate not only short term food insecurity (by complicating access to food for the poorest households), but also medium term food insecurity (by constraining many households to sold assets, what increases their vulnerability to future crisis and leads some of them to fall into chronic malnutrition). This kind of medium term effects will probably be very strong in 2012. First, households' capital has probably already been reduced by the high frequency of food crises during the last years (2005, 2008, 2010 and 2012). In addition, many families have lost an important source of income because of the return home of many migrant workers from Libya, Ivory Cost and Nigeria. Last but not least, pastures, fodder and water shortage leads many households to sell part of their cattle.
Emergency targeted aid (transfers to vulnerable households; nutrition programmes) is necessary in period of crisis to protect the most vulnerable persons from malnutrition. But it is neither relevant to face the problem of households' capital and resilience reduction nor the problem of chronic food insecurity. Because this aid is targeted to food insecure households, it is not able to prevent the reduction in capital of those who will be able to face the crisis by selling the last assets they have. Because it is activated only in situation of emergency, it can not restore the resilience of households who do not have any more assets to sell (even less if they are already in a situation of chronic malnutrition). Consequently, managing food crises only through emergency targeted aid is not sustainable. From one crisis to the next, the reduction in the resilience of many households and the fact that part of the population is falling into chronic food insecurity lead to increase the volume (and the cost) of the required emergency aid. In Niger, the cost of emergency aid during the 2010 crisis was twice its cost during the 2005 crisis. The cost of the 2012 crisis may be even higher: it is estimated that 6.4 millions of persons will need aid, accounting for 40% of the country population (ECHO 2012).
Consequently, in order to manage the Sahel food crisis, it seems necessary (in addition to emergency aid) to implement policies i) to prevent the prices of millet, sorghum and maize to increase more and ii) to rebuild the capital of households with a low resilience. Ex ante, it is possible to prevent the price of dried cereals (mil, sorghum and maize) to increase more by subsidizing maize imports from coastal countries or rice imports from international markets. It is well established yet that the price of imported rice plays the role of a ceiling for dried cereals. This means that a simple and effective way to prevent an additional increase in the price of dried cereals would be to subsidize rice imports in order to lower the price of imported rice to a level relevant to play the role of a ceiling for dried cereals. Such a measure would entail a cost of about 90 millions Euros (to subsidize 600 000 tonnes of rice). This is a reasonable cost if one takes into account that it would allow lowering the level of emergency aid which would be needed during the lean period. Ex post, a safety net will be required to rebuild the capital of households with a low resilience (Ethiopian Productive Safety Net Programme can be used as a reference).
The Global Green Growth Institute, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the United Nations Environment Programme, and the World Bank recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding to create the Green Growth Knowledge Platform. This cutting edge global initiative will identify and address major knowledge gaps in green growth theory and practice.
// Green Growth Knowledge Platform
The work of this platform will improve local, national, and global economic policy-making around the world by providing rigorous and relevant analysis of the various synergies and tradeoffs between the economy and the environment. It will complement other efforts by emphasizing policy instruments that yield local environmental co-benefits while stimulating growth, providing a compelling set of incentives for governments.
Video interview - Christine Negra on transforming the food system
3 Nov 2011.
Changing the game for the food system in the face of climate change — Christine Negra, coordinator of the Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change, speaks on the importance of bringing together the research community to focus on addressing food security, and dealing with resilience, adaptation, and mitigation. The Commission’s recommendations, which will be released mid-November, will highlight the set of opportunities that if implemented in parallel could transform the food system.
Fionna Douglas on climate-smart agriculture and Platform engagement
13 Oct 2011.
“We must improve food security in Africa and we must do it in a way that is sensitive to the changing climate.” In a brief online interview, Fionna Douglas of the World Bank speaks about the importance of recent climate/agriculture-related events — including the Johannesburg communiqué of African agriculture ministers. The communiqué calls for investment in climate-smart agriculture and, more urgently, the formation of an agriculture work programme covering adaptation and mitigation.
// Benefits for Africa
Africa stands to benefit from climate-smart agriculture because of the high vulnerability of rural populations to climate change. Africa is leading the way in putting this issue on the global political agenda and focusing on early action ahead of an emerging international consensus. (World Bank policy brief)
For Africa to be able to achieve its development goals, climate change adaptation must be a priority. CAADP plays a leading role in ensuring that climate change is mainstreamed into agricultural development.
// How can we make agriculture part of the solution?
Global Science Conference on Climate-smart Agriculture - 24. Oct. 2011 Wageningen will bring together some of the best scientists working on climate change issues. It will focus on the importance of the science of climate-smart agriculture as well as what the priorities should be in terms of investing in science.
UNFCC COP 17 - 28 Nov - 9 Dec. 2011 Durban will set the framework for a greater knowledge exchange surounding climat-smart agriculture. “We really do need to do the work around agriculture to find out how agriculture can become more and more part of the solution” — Fionna. Constructive action on the ground to strengthen agriculture, optimize its productivity and help farmers become more resilient would be a great outcome.