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Global wheat and maize prices rose for the third consecutive month in March, according to the latest FPMA Bulletin from FAO. This increase brings prices more than 10 percent above their December 2017 levels.

Prolonged dry weather in the United States drove much of the price increases for wheat, as did concerns about cold and wet weather in some parts of Europe. Dry weather in Argentina contributed to maize price increases. Global demand for these commodities also remained strong in March, further driving up prices.

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The FAO Food Price Index rose by 1.1 percent in March, marking the second consecutive month of increases. Cereal and dairy prices drove the price increase, while the prices of sugar and vegetable oils fell slightly. The Index for March 2018 is 0.7 percent above its year-earlier level.

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By Shenggen Fan
This piece was originally published on the GlobalDev blog.

The world’s urgent humanitarian assistance needs continued to grow in 2017, according to the 2018 Global Report on Food Crises. An estimated 124 million people across 51 countries currently face crisis-level or worse food insecurity, up from 104 million people across 48 countries in 2016.

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The world will continue to face major challenges from political and economic uncertainty, conflict, and climate change in 2018 and beyond, and the rising trend of anti-globalization in some developed countries could hamper the ability of policymakers to respond to these challenges. The result could be slowed progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and food and nutrition security, especially in developing countries.

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Argentine President Mauricio Macri has said that his country will place development, fairness, and sustainability at the forefront of this year’s G20 agenda, setting the theme of the Argentina G20 Presidency as “Building Consensus for Fair and Sustainable Development.” Experts recently gathered at IFPRI for a roundtable discussion on what these themes mean for food production systems, food security, and nutrition.

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The latest version of FAO’s Monthly Report on Food Price Trends (FPMA) was recently released. The February report shows global cereal prices have increased overall since the start of 2018.

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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.