Risk characterizes everyday life for many of the world’s poorest households. These households are more likely to be located in environments where livelihoods are highly susceptible to weather and price variability and where health risks are pervasive. Reducing the risks faced by poor households, and enabling poor households to better deal with adverse events when they do occur, is essential to improving their welfare in the short run and their opportunities for income growth in the long run.

The FAO Global Information and Early Warning System has released the latest Global Food Price Monitor. According to the report, the FAO Food Price Index remained virtually unchanged in May, with international wheat prices remaining high. International rice and corn prices were slightly lower in May than in April.

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G20 leaders at their summit meeting in November 2010 requested FAO, IFAD, IMF, OECD, UNCTAD, WFP, the World Bank, and the WTO to work with key stakeholders “to develop options for G20 consideration on how to better mitigate and manage the risks associated with the price volatility of food and other agriculture commodities, without distorting market behaviour, ultimately to protect the most vulnerable.”

When the World Trade Organization (WTO) was created in 1995, its members committed themselves to a set of disciplines for domestic support, market access, and export competition for agriculture. The Agreement on Agriculture paved the way for the pursuit of progressive reductions in world agricultural market distortions.

FEWS NET has released its monthly price watch for May 2011, citing relatively stable prices for wheat and maize in April.

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While agricultural trade policies are one factor affecting global food prices and price stability, they are not the only factor. Policies not directly related to trade can also have destabilizing effects if enacted by large countries and/or by a large number of small countries. Traditionally, focus has been put on agricultural policies and domestic support for developed countries’ farmers. Another strong example of this is the recent dramatic increase in pro-biofuels policies throughout both the developed and the developing world.

The World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report provides monthly comprehensive forecasts of supply and demand for major U.S. and global crops, supplied by the USDA. Crops covered include wheat, coarse grains, rice, and oilseeds. This report can explain past and current global commodities trends, as well as predict trends for the coming year.

Download the full May report. For more information regarding the WASDE reports, visit http://www.usda.gov/oce/commodity/wasde/

The FAO Global Information and Early Warning System has released the latest Global Food Price Monitor, citing an increase in the FAO Cereal Price Index in April. Global prices of wheat and maize increased sharply last month, while global rice prices continued to decline.

Download the full report.

FEWS NET has released its monthly price watch for April 2011, citing increased maize prices in March.

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Just three years after the 2007-08 food crisis, the food security of poor people and vulnerable groups, especially women and children, is again threatened as the prices of basic food items increase rapidly and become more volatile. Expanding biofuel production, rising oil prices, U.S. dollar depreciation, export restrictions, and panic purchasing are again driving up food prices—to the particular detriment of the world’s poorest consumers, who spend some 50-70 percent of their incomes on food.