India’s monsoon season is off to its weakest start in five years, sparking fears over the potential for drought and increased food prices throughout the country. During the first half of June, cumulative rainfall for India as a whole was 45 percent below average, according to the Ministry of Agriculture’s Department of Agriculture and Cooperation; India’s Meteorological Department is predicting that total monsoons this season will reach only 93 percent of the long period average.

This piece was originally posted on IFPRI.org
By Rebecca Sullivan

Food price volatility can present problems for an array of stakeholders, including countries managing their export portfolios, commodity traders, and especially farmers, as unpredictable prices may result in variable income and food insecurity.

Quality healthcare plays a crucial role in improving the lives of the poor. In many developing countries, however, high-quality healthcare can be hard to come by.

This is particularly true in India, where public sector medical care is often plagued with high rates of absenteeism and where private sector care is costly and of low quality. As a result, the country’s poor populations tend to have a low opinion of medical professionals, leading them to consult unqualified practitioners, or even no one at all, when they are sick.

The last ten years have witnessed incredible economic and agricultural growth in Africa. Between 2000 and 2010, the continent was home to six of the ten fastest-growing economies in the world.

However, can this growth continue in a sustainable, inclusive way?

In developed countries, talk of food safety regulations centers on public health – how to prevent outbreaks of food-borne illness and ensure high quality, nutritious food. For developing countries, though, increasing food safety regulations in food-importing countries can have significant economic implications as well. On the one hand, complying with higher food safety standards can be prohibitively costly, making it difficult for small farmers to access lucrative, high-value markets.

The June edition of the FAO Monthly News Report on Grains was released today. The report covers ongoing global and regional trends in grain prices and policies. This month's edition covers global grain stocks at a 15 year high, the potential impact of changing weather patterns on wheat production, and Brazil's proposed tariff-free wheat import quota.

The FAO Food Price Index for May was released yesterday and is down 2.5 points from April, and nearly 7 points from May 2013. This is the second decline in a row, following the ten-month high reached in March. The decline is driven mostly by lower dairy, cereals, and vegetable oils prices.