Improving global food security and ending hunger worldwide are daunting tasks, and policymakers striving toward these goals face many obstacles, from changing climate conditions to increasing financial speculation to highly concentrated export markets. These factors and more can contribute to high, and highly volatile, food prices, threatening global food security and causing widespread human suffering.

Source: © Simone D. McCourtie/World Bank (Flickr)

The landscape of global food security and agricultural development is a dynamic one, responding minute by minute to changes in local, regional, and global markets, weather and climate, and political will. Keeping up-to-date with food security developments requires information and analysis from a variety of sources. The Food Security Portal, facilitated by IFPRI, provides one-stop access to the latest food security data, research, and news.

GIEWS has released the October 2011 Crop Prospects and Food Situation report. The report cites improved prospects for global cereals production, based on higher expectations for rice and wheat. September saw a sharp fall in the price of all cereals except rice. This decrease was triggered by a number of factors, including the general global economic slowdown.

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FEWS NET has released a food security alert for West Africa to establish a context for regional agricultural production and food security prospects for the 2011/12 consumption year. The report's key messages include:

In the most likely scenario, crop production in the region will be less than last year’s bumper harvest (59 million tons) but near the 2005/06-2009/10 average (~50 million tons).

The impact of the unequal distribution of agricultural production is not yet clear. However, FEWS NET’s analysis suggests that food access will remain near average at the regional level.

FEWS NET has released its Global Price Watch for September 2011, citing continuing high prices in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia. Africa's newest nation, South Sudan, is also facing increased prices on some staple goods due to conflict and trade restrictions. Global rice prices saw a moderate upswing, due in part to Thailand's new rice price subsidy.

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The HarvestChoice AgMarketFinder Tool is a collaborative development innovation from IFPRI, Esri, and SpatialDev.

The International Grains Council has released its grains market report for September 22, 2011. World grain markets saw a retreat in September, a reverse from their strong positions in July and August. As global supply did not change radically, this change in the market is due primarily to financial developments such as the renewal of a strong US dollar.

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India's Department of Food and Public Distribution has released a draft of the National Food Security Bill on its website and is encouraging the public to comment and make suggestions by the end of September.

A Commentary by Maximo Torero

Thailand’s rice exporters are warning that the country’s 2012 rice exports could drop by as much as 30-40 percent as the result of a proposed government policy that would guarantee fixed prices for both plain white rice and jasmine rice. The Pheu Thai Party, which was elected into power in July, has promised farmers fixed prices of 15,000 baht ($US 500) per ton for plain white rice and 20,000 baht (US$ 667) per ton for jasmine rice.

GIEWS has released its Global Food Price Monitor for September 2011, citing continued record high prices in East Africa.

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