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Editor: Dr. Róbinson Rojas Sandford

On Planning for Development: rural development
 agrarian policies - agribusinesslandgrab - food - migration - poverty - globalization
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Food for cities

Food, Cities and Agriculture: challenges and priorities.

A briefing note: "More and more of the world’s population is becoming concentrated in and around large cities. Ensuring the right to have access to safe and nutritious food to the billions of people living in cities represents a global development challenge of the highest order.
  - An FAO briefing note highlights the major issues related to food, agriculture and cities and provides a set of recommendations for action at the global, national and local level" (
link to the document).
  - Open discussion now on Web-based forum at: 
                                                   (November 5, 2009)

From FAO - How to Feed the World 2050 - High-level expert forum
Rome - 12-13 October 2009

Technical papers from the Expert Meeting on How to Feed the World in 2050
FAO, Rome, 24-26 June 2009

These papers were commissioned by FAO to provide technical background material for the High-Level Expert Forum on "How to Feed the World in 2050" to be held at FAO, Rome, 12-13 October 2009. Please see the Expert Meeting report for expert comments on these papers as well as additional presentations made at the June 2009 Expert Meeting.

From Worldwatch Institute
Grain Production Continues Growth After Mixed Decade
by Alice McKeown | October 29, 2009

For the second year in a row, world grain production rose in 2008, with farmers producing some 2.287 billion tons. The record harvest was up more than 7 percent over the previous year and caps a decade in which only half the years registered gains. Per capita production also recovered, reaching 339 kilograms per person. The total amount of land dedicated to grain harvests worldwide has remained relatively stable over the past 15 years at around 700 million hectares-though it was below the average experienced from 1975 to 1986-but yields have increased 146 percent over the last 46 years.
Three of the top four global agricultural crops by quantity are grains: maize, rice, and wheat (sugarcane is the fourth). Other cereals and grains include millet, sorghum, oats, barley, quinoa, and rye. Together these crops make up nearly half of global daily calorie consumption and are considered critical for global food security. Some 35 percent of all grains in 2008 were used to feed industrial livestock, while 47 percent were consumed by humans.

Destroying African Agriculture
By Walden Bello - 7 June 2008

Biofuel production is certainly one of the culprits in the current global food crisis. But while the diversion of corn from food to biofuel feedstock has been a factor in food prices shooting up, the more primordial problem has been the conversion of economies that are largely food-self-sufficient into chronic food importers. Here the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Trade Organization (WTO) figure as much more important villains

From The World Bank
Global Agricultural Trade and Developing Countries- 2005
Editors: M. Ataman Aksoy and John C. Beghin
Agricultural Trade Reforms Key To Reducing Poverty
WASHINGTON, January 10, 2005 — With almost 70 percent of the poor people in developing countries living in rural areas, agricultural sector reforms - in particular global trade liberalization - will be crucial in giving them opportunities for better lives, according to a new World Bank report released today.
The report, Global Agricultural Trade and Developing Countries, edited by M. Ataman Aksoy and John C. Beghin, notes that despite the recent framework agreement in Geneva, agricultural protection continues to be among the most contentious issues in global trade negotiations. High protection of agriculture in industrial countries was the main cause of the breakdown of the Cancún Ministerial Meetings in 2003, and remains among the key outstanding issues in the Doha Round of global trade negotiations.

United Nations University
World Institute for Development Economic Research:

Yianna Lambrou and Regina Laub
Gender, Local Knowledge, and Lessons Learnt in Documenting and Conserving Agrobiodiversity
This paper explores the linkages between gender, local knowledge systems and agrobiodiversity for food security by using the case study of LinKS, a regional FAO project in Mozambique, Swaziland, Zimbabwe and Tanzania over a period of eight years and now concluded. The project aimed to raise awareness on how rural men and women use and manage agrobiodiversity, and to promote the importance of local knowledge for food security and sustainable agrobiodiversity at local, institutional and policy levels by working with a diverse range of stakeholders to strengthen their ability to recognize and value farmers’ knowledge and to use gender-sensitive and participatory approaches in their work. This was done through three key activities: capacity building, research and communication. The results of the LinKS study show clearly that men and women farmers hold very specific local knowledge about the plants and animals they manage. Local knowledge, gender and agrobiodiversity are closely interrelated. If one of these elements is threatened, the risk of losing agrobiodiversity increases...

Annelies Zoomers
Three Decades of Rural Development Projects in Asia, Latin America, and Africa: Learning From Successes and Failures  
This article aims to contribute to the discussion about how to make development interventions more effective by analyzing the factors contributing to the success or failure of rural development projects. We made an aggregate level analysis of 46 projects in the field of agricultural research (AR), water management (WM), natural resource management (NRM), and integrated rural development (IRD), financed by the Netherlands’ Directorate-General for International Cooperation (DGIS) and carried out between 1975-2005 in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Making a distinction between the successful projects and failures, we showed the possibilities and limitations...

Tony Addison
Agricultural Development for Peace
Agricultural development can contribute significantly to peace by raising incomes and employment, thereby reducing the social frustrations that give rise to violence. Agricultural growth also generates revenues for governments, allowing them to redress the grievances of disadvantaged populations. In this way, growth can be made more equitable, an effect that is enhanced if inequalities in access to natural capital, especially to land, are addressed as well. Agriculture is critical for countries rebuilding from war, especially in making recovery work for the poor. And by raising per capita incomes, agricultural development underpins new democracies. Agricultural development thereby supports political strategies for peace-building and democratization.

Martin Ravallion
Externalities in Rural Development: Evidence for China
The paper tests for external effects of local economic activity on consumption and income growth at the farm household level using panel data from four provinces of post-reform rural China. The tests allow for nonstationary fixed effects in the consumption growth process. Evidence is found of geographic externalities, stemming from spillover effects of the level and composition of local economic activity and private returns to local human and physical infrastructure endowments. The results suggest an explanation for rural underdevelopment arising from underinvestment in certain externality-generating activities, of which agricultural development emerges as the most important.

M. Lamine Gakou (1987)
The crisis in African agriculture - Studies on African Political Economy
Our aim in undertaking this work is to demonstrate, or provide further confirmation that the crisis affecting Africa particularly - even though it is more widespread - has its profound roots in the integration of African economies into the world capitalist system.
The agricultural sectors and the rural areas are most often the ones most affected because of this integration.
The case of agriculture, which, in most countries, is in crisis because it is essentially oriented towards the world market and not towards the feeding of the local people, shows that it is idle for the underdeveloped countries, and particularly for Africa, to seek solutions to their problems in the framework of a system whose modus operandi and rules of the game operate in such a way that it is always the poorest and economically weakest that suffer the most serious consequences of the crisis.
If the developed capitalist countries can make the underdeveloped countries bear at least a part of the burden of their own crisis, in these countries and in Africa in particular, the so-called 'non-modern', 'traditional' sectors, agriculture above all, bear more of the burden. Other explanations can be found for the crisis, but we feel that these explanations can be no more than secondary, the fundamental cause being the integration of Africa into a system over which it has absolutely no control.

The World Bank on Rural Development
The World Bank on rural poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean
J. O. Lanjouw and P. Lanjouw - 1995
Rural Non-Farm Employment: A Survey
The rural non-farm sector is a poorly understood component of the rural economy and we know relatively little about its role in the broader development process. This gap in our knowledge is the product of the sector's great heterogeneity (see Box 1 for examples), coupled with a dearth, until recently, of empirical or theoretical attention. As expressed by Liedholm and Chuta (1990, pg 327) "...policy makers and planners charged with the formulation of policies and programs to assist rural small-scale industry in the Third World are often forced to make decisions that are 'unencumbered by evidence'." In fact until recently, a commonly held view has been that rural off-farm employment is a low productivity sector producing low quality goods. As such, it was expected to wither away as a country developed and incomes rose, and its withering was seen as a positive rather than a negative occurrence. A corollary of this view is that government need not worry about the health of this sector in a pro-active sense, nor be concerned about negative repercussions on the rural non-farm sector arising from government policies directed at other objectives. More recently opinion has swung away from this view,...

A. Figueroa, Catholic University of Peru - 1999
Social exclusion and rural development
This paper examines factors that explain social inequalities in the Third World. It develops a new theoretical approach, which focuses on social inequality and introduces the concept of social exclusion into the analysis. In so doing, it specially addresses the question: is inequality a result of some peculiar form of social integration, or rather a result of some exclusions taking place in the social process? Social inequality is conceived in this paper in broader terms than income inequality. The social process is, for analytical purposes, divided into the three components: economic, political, and cultural. Social inequality refers to the aggregation of inequality on these components.
Social exclusion is also considered in a particular way. As a fact of life, we know that the same group of people who participate in some social relations may, at the same time, be excluded from others. Hence, to say that a person is excluded from something is a purely descriptive statement, with no analytical value. In analytical terms, the question is whether there are some exclusions that have important effects upon social inequality. Which are these exclusions in a particular society? Who is excluded and from what? Why do these exclusions take place?

Foreign Policy IN FOCUS
Food and Farm
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Learning resources:
Food Security E-learning Course
Fostering Participation in Development
Payment for Environmental Services

Key Publications

The State of Food and Agriculture
BIOFUELS: prospects, risks and opportunities
2008 edition

The State of Food Insecurity in the World
Eradicating World Hunger
2009 edition

The State of Agricultural Commodity Markets
2009 edition

FAO Statistical Yearbook
2006 edition

Policy Briefs
Economic and Social Perspectives


World Food Summits:
What is the World Food  Summit?
2009 (“L’Aquila” Joint Statement on Global Food Security)

From FAO:
Corporate Document Repository:
Crop production systems management

Livestock production systems management

Diseases and pests of animals and plants

Nutrition and consumer protection

Forestry management and conservation

Fisheries and aquaculture management and conservation

Sustainable natural resources management

Rural infrastructure and agro-industries

Food and agriculture policy

Trade and marketing

Gender and equity in rural societies

Rural livelihood and food security

The State of Food Agriculture Reports

The complete series

2008 Biofuels: prospects, risks and opportunities
The implications of the recent rapid growth in production of biofuels based on agricultural commodities. The boom in liquid biofuels has been largely induced by policies in developed countries. More than at any time in the past three decades, the world’s attention is focused this year on food and agriculture. A variety of factors have combined to raise food prices to the highest levels since the 1970s (in real terms), with serious implications for food security among poor populations around the world. One of the most frequently mentioned contributing factors is the rapid recent growth in the use of agricultural commodities – including some food crops – for the production of biofuels. Yet the impact of biofuels on food prices remains the subject of considerable debate, as does their potential to contribute to energy security, climate-change mitigation and agricultural development. Even while this debate continues, countries around the world confront important choices about policies and investments regarding biofuels. These were among the topics discussed at FAO in June 2008 by delegations from 181 countries attending the High-Level Conference on World Food Security: the Challenges of Climate Change and Bioenergy. Given the urgency of these choices and the magnitude of their potential consequences, participants at the Conference agreed that careful assessment of the prospects, risks and opportunities posed by biofuels is essential. This is the focus of FAO’s 2008 report on the State of Food and Agriculture.

2007: Paying farmers for environmental services
The State of Food and Agriculture 2007 explores the potential for agriculture to provide enhanced levels of environmental services alongside the production of food and fi bre. The report concludes that demand for environmental services from agriculture - including climate change mitigation, improved watershed management and biodiversity preservation - will increase in the future, but better incentives to farmers are needed if agriculture is to meet this demand. As one among several other possible policy tools, payments to farmers for environmental services hold promise as a fl exible approach to enhancing farmer incentives to sustain and improve the ecosystems on which we all depend. Nevertheless, challenges must be overcome if the potential of this approach is to be realized, especially in developing countries. Policy efforts at international and national levels are necessary to establish the basis for such payments. The design of cost-effective programmes requires careful analysis of the specifi c biophysical and socio-economic contexts and consideration of the poverty impacts programmes may have. By clarifying the challenges that need to be addressed in implementing such an approach, this report is intended to contribute to the realization of its potential.

2006: Food aid for food security?
The State of Food and Agriculture 2006 examines the issues and controversies surrounding international food aid and seeks to find ways to preserve its essential humanitarian role while minimizing the possibility of harmful secondary impacts. Food aid has rightly been credited with saving millions of lives; indeed, it is often the only thing standing between vulnerable people and death. Yet food aid is sharply criticized as a donor-driven response that creates dependency on the part of recipients and undermines local agricultural producers and traders upon whom sustainable food security depends. The economic evidence regarding these issues is surprisingly thin, but it confirms that the timing and targeting of food aid are central to achieving immediate food security objectives while minimizing the potential for harm. Reforms to the international food aid system are necessary but they should be undertaken carefully because lives are at risk.

2005: Agricultural trade and poverty: Can trade work for the poor?

The State of Food and Agriculture 2005 examines the linkages among agriculture, trade and poverty and asks whether international agricultural trade, and its further reform, can help overcome extreme poverty and hunger.

The global statistics on poverty and hunger are all too familiar. An estimated 1.2 billion people live on less than one dollar a day and FAO's most recent estimates indicate that 852 million people lack sufficient food for an active and healthy life. There is now also an increased awareness that extreme poverty and hunger are largely rural phenomena. Most of the world's poor and hungry people live in rural areas and depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. To the extent that agriculture is affected by trade, trade will necessarily affect the livelihoods and food security of the world's most vulnerable people.

The global economy is becoming increasingly integrated through trade, and agriculture is part of this larger trend. For some countries, agricultural trade expansion - sparked by agricultural and trade policy reforms - has contributed to a period of rapid pro-poor economic growth. Indeed, some of the countries that have been most successful in reducing hunger and extreme poverty have relied on trade in agricultural products, either exports or imports or both, as an essential element of their development strategy.

Many of the poorest countries however, have not had the same positive experience. Rather, they are becoming more marginalized and vulnerable, depending on imports for a rising share of their food needs without being able to expand and diversify their agricultural or non-agricultural exports. FAO believes that the reform process under way must consider the specific circumstances of these countries, particularly their stage of agricultural development and the complementary policies needed to ensure their successful integration into global agricultural markets.

FAO has long recognized that agricultural trade is vital for food security, poverty alleviation and economic growth. Food imports are a fundamental means of supplementing local production in ensuring the provision of minimum supplies of basic foodstuffs in many countries. Agricultural exports are an important source of foreign exchange earnings and rural income in many developing countries. Reducing trade-distorting agricultural subsidies and barriers to agricultural trade can serve as a catalyst for growth as producers worldwide could then compete on the basis of their comparative advantage.

However, international trade in agricultural products is characterized by a number of problems that do not allow competition on the basis of comparative advantage. The markets for many temperate-zone products and basic food commodities are substantially distorted by government subsidies and protection, particularly in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. Some developed countries continue to subsidize their farmers and, where this leads to market surpluses, even their agricultural exports. For other agricultural products, particularly tropical ones such as coffee, tea, natural fibres, tropical fruits and vegetables, the problems include high as well as complex and seasonal tariffs and significant tariff escalation.

2003-4: Agricultural Biotechnology : Meeting the needs of the poor?

This edition of The State of Food and Agriculture explores the potential for agricultural biotechnology to address the needs of the world's poor and food-insecure. Agriculture continues to face serious challenges, including feeding an additional two billion people by the year 2030 from an increasingly fragile natural resource base. The effective transfer of existing technologies to poor rural communities and the development of new and safe biotechnologies can greatly enhance the prospects for sustainably improving agricultural productivity today and in the future. But technology alone cannot solve the problems of the poor and some aspects of biotechnology, particularly the socio-economic impacts and the food safety and environmental implications, need to be carefully assessed.

Developing biotechnology in ways that contribute to the sustainable development of agriculture, fisheries and forestry can help significantly in meeting the food and livelihood needs of a growing population. The study of genomics and molecular markers, for example, can facilitate breeding and conservation programmes and provide new tools in the fight against plant and animal diseases. It is clear from the survey of current and emerging applications of biotechnology in this report that biotechnology encompasses far more than genetic engineering. But it is the ability to move genes between unrelated species that gives genetic engineering its enormous power and elicits such profound concern. FAO recognizes the need for a balanced and comprehensive approach to biotechnological development, taking into consideration the opportunities and risks.

Biotechnology offers opportunities to increase the availability and variety of food, increasing overall agricultural productivity while reducing seasonal variations in food supplies. Through the introduction of pest-resistant and stress-tolerant crops, biotechnology could lower the risk of crop failure under difficult biological and climatic conditions. Furthermore, biotechnology could help reduce environmental damage caused by toxic agricultural chemicals. Following a first generation of genetically engineered crops, which aimed primarily at reducing production constraints and costs, a second generation now targets the bio-availability of nutrients and the nutritional quality of products. Examples are found in the production of varieties of rice and canola that contain appreciable amounts of beta-carotene. This precursor of vitamin A is in short supply in the diets of many, particularly in the developing world where it could help to alleviate or reduce chronic vitamin A deficiencies. Research is under way to raise levels of other vitamins, minerals and proteins in crops, such as potatoes and cassava.

This issue of The State of Food and Agriculture reviews the historical record of agricultural research in promoting economic growth and food security. The Green Revolution, which lifted millions of people out of poverty, came about through an international programme of public-sector agricultural research specifically aimed at creating and transferring technologies to the developing world as free public goods. The Gene Revolution, by contrast, is currently being driven primarily by the private sector, which naturally focuses on developing products for large commercial markets. This raises serious questions about the type of research that is being performed and the likelihood that the poor will benefit.

2002: Agriculture and global public goods ten years after the Earth Summit
According to FAO's latest estimate, there were 815 million undernourished people in the world in 1997-99: 777 million in the developing countries, 27 million in the countries in transition and 11 million in the developed market economies.
More than half of the undernourished people (61 percent) are found in Asia, while sub-Saharan Africa accounts for almost a quarter (24 percent).
In terms of the percentage of undernourished people in the total population, the highest incidence is found in sub-Saharan Africa, where it was estimated that one-third of the population (34 percent) were undernourished in 1997-99. Sub-Saharan Africa is followed by Asia and the Pacific, where 16 percent of the population are undernourished.
Significant progress has been made over the last two decades: the incidence of undernourishment in the developing countries has decreased from 29 percent in 1979-81 to 17 percent in 1997-99.
However, progress has been very uneven. In Asia and the Pacific, the percentage has been halved since 1979-81. In sub-Saharan Africa, by contrast, the incidence of undernourishment has declined only marginally over the same period. Considering the rapid population growth in this region, this means that the total number of undernourished people in sub-Saharan Africa has increased significantly. In Latin America and the Caribbean, the incidence of undernourishment is lower than in Asia, but progress over the last two decades has been slower. The Near East and North Africa region has the lowest incidence of undernourishment, but has seen no reduction over the last two decades.
At the World Food Summit in 1996, heads of state and government made a commitment to cut by half the number of undernourished people in developing countries by 2015 (with 1990-92 as the benchmark period). Since the benchmark period, the number of undernourished people has declined by a total of 39 million, corresponding to an average annual decline of 6 million. To achieve the World Food Summit goal, the number of undernourished people would have to decrease by an annual rate of 22 million for the remaining period - well above the current level of performance.

2001 Economic impacts of transboundary plant pests and animal diseases  
Pests and diseases have threatened farmers since farming began. The damage they cause can be economic (through lost output, income and investment) as well as psychological (manifested in shock and panic). Combating pests and diseases is a necessity for farmers and, as a rule, decisions regarding control are made by the individual farmer. However, the presence of a pest or disease on one farm poses a threat to adjacent farms and sometimes even to distant localities. As such, pests and diseases imply negative impacts on third parties and call for an additional response, either from affected parties or a public agency.
Infrastructure and services to prevent and combat pests and diseases are a public good that can be provided more efficiently by governments than by individual farmers. Yet, the most effective form of government intervention depends on the pest or disease in question. Experience has often shown that government provision of pest and disease control services can create a dependency among farmers and discourage their adoption of integrated pest management approaches that enable them to address the problems themselves. In such circumstances, government provision of knowledge, science and information may be the best and most sustainable way of serving the farming community in the long term.
The justification for government control intervention is stronger for transboundary pests and diseases than for those that only occur locally. Furthermore, in some countries the loss of food as a result of pests and diseases may threaten food security or rural livelihoods, making intervention politically unavoidable.
Plant pests and animal diseases pose the greatest immediate threat when they move as plagues or when they are introduced for the first time into ecologically favourable conditions where there are few natural factors to limit their spread and people do not have experience in managing them. Such occurrences often have the most evident economic impact and, in many cases, affect marginalized people most severely.
The spread of emergent diseases and invasive species has increased dramatically in recent years. At the same time, numerous developments - such as the rapidly increasing transboundary movements of goods and people, trade liberalization, increasing concerns about food safety and the environment - have heightened the need for international cooperation in controlling and managing transboundary pests and diseases.

2000 World food and agriculture: lessons from the past 50 years
This review covers changes in the world food, agricultural and food security situation over the past half-century, with a view to deriving policy messages for the years to come.
Fifty years of world food and agriculture make up a canvas that can only be painted with a broad brush. It is not only a long period but also an extraordinarily eventful one - indeed, no other 50-year period in history has seen such wide-ranging and rapid changes in humanity. These changes have not left agriculture untouched. Food and agricultural techniques and systems have undergone major transformations, as have agricultural and rural societies. Different food security situations have also evolved across regions, countries and groups of people. Progress has been spectacular in some areas, disappointing in others. The world today appears overall to be a rich and peaceful place compared with what it was 50 years ago. Yet, millions of people, even in rich societies, are still bowed down by the suffering imposed on them by hunger and related diseases. Such contrasts are certainly not specific to the contemporary world, but advances in technology and resources have made hunger more avoidable and, therefore, more intolerable today.

1998 Rural non-farm income in developing countries
The traditional image of farm households in developing countries has been that they focus almost exclusively on farming and undertake little rural non-farm (RNF) activity.  This image persists and is widespread even today. Policy debate still tends to equate farm income with rural incomes, and rural/urban relations with farm/non-farm relations. Industry Ministries have thus focused on urban industry and Ministries of Agriculture on farming, and there has been a tendency even among agriculturists and those interested in rural development to neglect the RNF sector.
Nevertheless, there is mounting evidence that RNF income (i.e. income derived in this sector from wage-paying activities and self-employment in commerce, manufacturing and other services) is an important resource for farm and other rural households, including the landless poor as well as rural town residents. Although this source accounts for only part of total off-farm income (which also includes farm wages and migration earnings), this chapter focuses on RNF income so as to enable a closer examination of what can be done within rural areas themselves to increase overall economic activity and employment.
 There are several reasons why the promotion of RNF activity can be of great interest to developing country policy-makers. First, the evidence shows that RNF income is an important factor in household economies and therefore also in food security, since it allows greater access to food. This source of income may also prevent rapid or excessive urbanization as well as natural resource degradation through overexploitation.

1997 The agroprocessing industry and economic development
Agriculture and industry have traditionally been viewed as two separate sectors both in terms of their characteristics and their role in economic growth. Agriculture has been considered the hallmark of the first stage of development, while the degree of industrialization has been taken to be the most relevant indicator of a country’s progress along the development path. Moreover, the proper strategy for growth has often been conceived as one of a more or less gradual shift from agriculture to industry, with the onus on agriculture to finance the shift in the first stage.
This view, however, no longer appears to be appropriate. On the one hand, the role of agriculture in the process of development has been reappraised and revalued from the point of view of its contribution to industrialization and its importance for harmonious development and political and economic stability. On the other hand, agriculture itself has become a form of industry, as technology, vertical integration, marketing and consumer preferences have evolved along lines that closely follow the profile of comparable industrial sectors, often of notable complexity and richness of variety and scope. This has meant that the deployment of resources in agriculture has become increasingly responsive to market forces and increasingly integrated in the network of industrial interdependencies. Agricultural products are shaped by technologies of growing complexity, and they incorporate the results of major research and development efforts as well as increasingly sophisticated individual and collective preferences regarding nutrition, health and the environment. While one can still distinguish the phase of production of raw materials from the processing and transformation phase, often this distinction is blurred by the complexity of technology and the extent of vertical integration: the industrialization of agriculture and development of agroprocessing industries is thus a joint process which is generating an entirely new type of industrial sector.

1996 Food security: some macroeconomic dimensions
Food security has been defined as the access for all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life. The three key ideas underlying this definition are: the adequacy of food availability (effective supply); the adequacy of food access, i.e. the ability of the individual to acquire sufficient food (effective demand); and the reliablity of both. Food insecurity can, therefore, be a failure of availability, access, reliability or some combination of these factors.
Inherent in this modern concept of food security is an understanding of food producers and consumers as economic agents. Food availability is the supply of food, which depends, inter alia, on relative input and output prices as well as on the technological production possibilities. Food access is concerned with the demand for food, which is a function of several variables: the price of the food item in question; the prices of complementary and substitutable items; income; demographic variables; and tastes or preferences.4 According to Barraclough, to ensure food security, a food system should be characterized by:
  • the capacity to produce, store and import sufficient food to meet basic needs for all population groups;
  • maximum autonomy and self-determination (without implying self-sufficiency), which reduces vulnerability to international market fluctuations and political pressures;
  • reliability, such that seasonal, cyclical and other variations in access to food are minimal;
  • sustainability, such that the ecological system is protected and improved over time;
  • equity, meaning, as a minimum, dependable access to adequate food for all social groups.5
It is worth adding explicitly that a secure food system must be able to deliver inputs and outputs (both those produced and consumed domestically and those traded internationally) where and when they are required.

1995 Agricultural trade: entering a new era?    -   Full Report
The expansion of agricultural trade has helped provide greater quantity, wider variety and better quality food to increasing numbers of people at lower prices. Agricultural trade is also a generator of income and welfare for the millions of people who are directly or indirectly involved in it. At the national level, for many countries it is a major source of the foreign exchange that is necessary to finance imports and development; while for many others domestic food security is closely related to the country's capacity to finance food imports.
As with any activity that involves buyers and sellers, however, agricultural trade - perhaps more than any other trade tends to be a source of conflicts of interest and international confrontation. One reason for this is that agricultural policies are frequently influenced by the interests of particular political constituencies within a country rather than by national, international or global interests. Related reasons are: the emergence and growth of widespread distortions in world agricultural markets; the food-security role of agricultural trade, which confers upon it a special political, socio-economic and strategic dimension; and, more recently, differing perceptions of the role of agricultural trade in environmental matters of transnational or global i merest.
Agricultural trade policy has long reflected the widely held belief that, because of its importance and vulnerability, the agricultural sector could not be exposed to the full rigours of international competition without incurring unacceptable political, social and economic consequences. This view has led to high and widespread protection of the sector, which has been a cause of depressed and unstable agricultural commodity markets, in their turn, leading to further pressures for protection. In recent years, however, many developing countries have unilaterally taken steps towards the liberalization of overall and agricultural markets. Most of these steps have involved the development of structural adjustment programmes and regional cooperation schemes. In the former centrally planned economies, the systemic reforms underway have also led to greater external openness and this process, in particular the increasingly important role in international trade that China is likely to play, has far-reaching implications worldwide. On the other hand, for a number of developed countries, including such major traders as the United States and the EC, agricultural policy reform induced by domestic or international pressure has led to some reduction in trade distortions but not to significant trade liberalization as yet.
1994 Part III: Forest development and policy dilemmas   -  Full Report
1993 Part III: Water policies and agriculture - Full report

The World Bank: agriculture and rural development

The state of food insecurity in the world reports on global and national efforts to reach the goal set by the 1996 World Food Summit: to reduce by half the number of undernourished people in the world by the year 2015.

FAO has the mandate to monitor progress in hunger reduction based on accurate, reliable and timely methods that measure the prevalence of hunger, food insecurity and vulnerability and that also illustrate changes over time.
Full SOFI report 2003
 SOFI 2003 summary in pdf (95 K)
 News Story (1)
Full SOFI report 2002
 SOFI 2002 summary in pdf (159 K)
News Stories (1)  (2)
 International Year of the Mountains
Full SOFI report 2001
  Press release
Full SOFI report 2000
 Full SOFI report 2000 in pdf (1 MB)
 SOFI 2000 summary in pdf (376 K)
 FAO Focus on SOFI
 News and Highlights
 Press release
Full SOFI report 1999 in pdf (1 MB)
 SOFI  1999 summary in pdf (328 K)
 FAO Focus on SOFI 1999
 Press release
Least Developed Countries Report 1997
Agricultural Development and Policy Reforms in LDCs
UNCTAD´s annual report on the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) is the most comprehensive, and authoritative, source of socio-economic analysis and data on the world s 48 most impoverished nations.
This year, it raises the following important questions:

Why, at a time of record resource flows to developing countries, is the LDC s share of external finance falling?
Why, twenty years after the Green Revolution, have many LDCs failed to improve their agricultural productivity?
Why, at a time of unparalleled prosperity, are the populations of nearly half the LDCs getting less to eat than ten years ago?
What can the international community do to help those LDCs that have experienced serious civil strife for over a decade, and whose economies are in regress?

From The World Bank Group archives
Public and Private Roles in Agricultural Development
Proceedings if the Twelfth Agricultural Symposium
J. R. Anderson and C. de Haan, editors - 1992
File Copy 11505
From the Foreword: The tradition of the Annual Agricultural Symposium is now well established...Our deliberations got off to a spirited start with the Opening Address of Mr. Mahbub ul Haq, formerly of the World Bank and of many senior positions in Pakistan and, most recently, of UNDP. His address "The Myth of Friendly Markets" led to a vigorous debate with participation by many of the very large audience of Bank staff.
The theme of this year's Symposium - Public and Private Roles in Agricultural Development- is one that is to the fore of debate on many aspects of Bank operations...the contributions ranged accross roles in marketing, credit, research, extension, input supply, seeds, veterinary services, and grassroots development initiatives.

Table of contents:
Opening Session:
Opening Statement, by Lewis Preston
The Myth of the Friendly Markets, by Mahbub ul Haq

Governments and the handling of purchased ibputs and marketed outputs
The art of privatizing after decades of planning, by Robert L. Roos
How to privatize a parastatal, by Wilfred Candler
Rural finance in developing countries, by Jacob Yaron

New approaches to supporting agricultural research and Extension
An initiative involving the private sector in meat and livestock research, by Nigel H. Monteith
The United Kingdom experience in the privatization of extension, by Paul Ingram

Agricultural delivery systems
From agricultural extension to rural information management, by Willem Zijp
Energizing the communication component in extension: a case for new pilot projects, by Bella Mody
New technologies in soil fertility maintenance private sector contributions, by Dennis H. Parish
Public and private sector roles in the supply of veterinary services, by Cornelis de Haan and Dina L. Umali
Fostering a Fledging Seed Industry, by Alexander Grobman
The development and marketing of new material from biotechnology in the commercial sector, by Sue Sundstrom

Long-term issues affecting the environment in which public and private roles are played out
The global supply of agricultural land, by Pierre Crosson
Land use planning and productive capacity assessment, by Wim Sombroek
Update on aquaculture: small-scale freshwater fish culture in South Asia, by Darrell L. Deppert
Nutritional considerations in World Bank lending for economic adjustment, by Harold Alderman

Nongovernmental organizations
Private voluntary initiatives: enhancing the public sector's capacity to respond to nongovernmental organizations needs, by Anthony Bebbington and John Farrington
Nongovernmental organization alternatives and fresh initiatives in extension: the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme experience, by Shoaib Sultan Khan

Closing session
Closing remarks, by Michel Petit

Mexico - Agricultural Development and Rural Poverty Project Vol. 1 (English)(1997)
Mexico - Protected Areas Program Restructuring Project Vol. 1 (English)(1997)
Mexico - Rural Finance Technical Assistance and Pilot Project Vol. 1 (English)(1996)
Mexico - Third Integrated Rural Development (PIDER III) Project Vol. 1 (English)(1990)
Mexico - Second Integrated Rural Development (PIDER II) Project Vol. 1 (English)(1986)
Mexico - Integrated Rural Development (PIDER) Project Vol. 1 (English)(1983)
Mexico - Third Integrated Rural Development (PIDER III) Project Vol. 1 (English)(1981)
Mexico - Third Integrated Rural Development (PIDER III) Project Vol. 1 (English)(1981)
Mexico - Second Integrated Rural Development (PIDER II) Project Vol. 1 (English)(1977)
Mexico - Second Integrated Rural Development (PIDER II) Project Vol. 1 (English)(1977)
Centro de Documentación de Desarrollo Rural
El estado mundial de la agricultura y la alimentación 2000 (FAO website)
Cumbre Mundial sobre la Alimentación.-1996
Organización de las Naciones Unidas para la agricultura y la alimentación
Inter-Réseaux. Développement Rural
La situation mondiale de l'alimentation et de l'agriculture 2000 (FAO website)
Sommet mondial de l'alimentation.-November 2001
Sommet mondial de l'alimentation.-1996
Organisation de Nations Unies pour l'alimentation et l'agriculture

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