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The Green Revolution in Asia in the 1960s led to increased production of staple food crops like rice and wheat, which reduced hunger and boosted incomes and overall economic growth. However, according to a new study published in Global Food Security, this progress has been slow to translate from food security, focused on quantity of food, to nutrition security, focused on quality of food.

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The food system represents a vital economic sector, making up the largest source of employment (both self-employment and wage employment) in many developing countries. This system extends far beyond farm production to include a wide range of activities, including food processing, transportation, and retail.

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The FAO Food Price Index remained steady in January and fell three percent from its January 2017 levels.

The Cereal Price Index rose almost 2.5 percent in January, reaching 6.3 percent above its year-earlier levels. The increase was driven mostly by wheat and maize prices; despite ample supplies, the price of these crops increase due to a weakening US dollar and concerns over weather. Strong demand from Asia also continued to drive up global rice prices in January.

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Recent years have observed a constant increase of obesity and overweight rates in developing countries, coexisting with lingering rates of wasting and stunting. Around the world, almost a billion people are suffering from hunger and over 2 billion have nutrition deficiencies, but at the same time, almost 2 billion are overweight or obese. The question of malnutrition has thus transitioned toward diet composition rather than just insufficient caloric intake.

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Despite a 3.3 percent decline in December, the FAO Food Price Index saw an overall increase for 2017 as a whole. The Index rose 8.2 percent from 2016 to reach the highest annual average seen since 2014. The increase was driven mainly by sharp increases in dairy and meat prices, but international cereal prices also experienced a modest increase in 2017.

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Social protection programs – specifically social safety nets – can meaningfully increase poor populations’ food consumption and asset holdings, according to a new study published in World Development.

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The December World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates from USDA reports increased supplies for major global commodities.

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The FAO Crop Prospects and Food Situation Report for the last quarter of 2017 reports that 37 countries remain in need of food assistance. Twenty-nine of those countries are in Africa, seven are in Asia, and one is in Latin America and the Caribbean. Persistent conflict coupled with weather shocks resulting in production shortfalls are behind most of these needs. All of these factors have limited food access and availability in the affected countries, in some cases severely.

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This piece was originally posted on the IFPRI.org blog
BY ROB VOS, EUGENIO DIAZ-BONILLA, DAVID LABORDE AND VALERIA PIÑEIRO, IFPRI

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This post first appeared on the International Growth Centre blog
By Antoine Bouët and David Laborde, Senior Research Fellows in IFPRI's Markets, Trade and Institutions Division.