Photo Credit: GlobalDev

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.

Photo Credit: Jamed Falik/IFPRI

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.

Photo Credit: Jessica Thomas/IFPRI

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.

Photo Credit: IFPRI/Farha Khan

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.

Photo Credit: USAID

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.

Photo Credit: Débora Casali

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.

Photo Credit: IFPRI Images

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.

Photo Credit: FAO

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.