Demand, Supply, Sustainability and Security
Edited by Raghbendra Jha, Raghav Gaiha and Anil B. Deolalikar
Chapter 1: Overview: Handbook on Food: Demand, Supply, Sustainability and Security
In a 2012 report, IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development), WFP (World Food Programme) and FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) argue that in 2010-12 as many as 870 million people (or 12.5 per cent of the global population) were nutritionally deficient in energy. This figure was certainly adversely affected by the food price spiral of 2007-08. A recent and continuing surge in food prices portends another crisis. Nevertheless, there are some striking differences between the food crisis of 2007-08 and the present. One is that the latter is more pervasive (not only have prices of wheat and maize risen sharply but also those of sugar, among other food commodities). A second important difference is that the present surge is largely a result of supply shocks - weather is a more important factor this time than in 2008, reducing production and stocks. A third difference is that, although trade policy responses are associated with price spikes, the former had a more important role in the earlier crisis. Some critical inputs into agriculture such as oil also affect food prices. Oil affects food prices through supply and demand channels. On the supply side oil and oil-related costs are a substantial component of production costs of food and non-food crops. Agriculture is second only to transportation in its oil-use intensity, implying high sensitivity of marginal costs to oil prices.
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