The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) has released a food security alert for East Africa, stating that the region’s current food security crisis is likely to worsen due to below-average rainfall forecasts for March-May, 2011. Rising food prices and declining household purchasing power in areas of Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya have pushed levels of acute malnutrition above emergency thresholds in these regions. The worst-case scenario predicts rainfalls of less than 50 percent of average in the coming six months.

Access the full report below.

Global policymakers were faced with a stark reality when food prices rose for the eighth consecutive month in February. In addition to affecting global markets, such increases can have complex and widely varied impacts on agricultural markets at the country level. A new policy analysis tool from the Food Security Portal can help to estimate and analyze these domestic impacts.

The FAO Global Information and Early Warning System on Food and Agriculture (GIEWS) has released a food security brief for North Africa, citing regional unrest and rising global commodities prices as the rationale for a WFP-led emergency food aid operation. The report discusses the production and import/export situation in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia.

Access the full report

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

As the global population has become increasingly larger and more urbanized, and as incomes continue to rise, agricultural markets have changed drastically. The demand for high-value agricultural products and the emphasis placed on foreign trade means that poor rural farmers are often left out of the market. Smallholder farmers may not be able to compete with larger farmers who can provide consistent quantities of high-quality products.

The daily global news continues to be inundated with stories of rising food prices, and accompanying rises in poverty and hunger. Recent droughts in China have been added to the list of factors driving food prices, specifically commodity prices, up around the world. Policymakers are now faced with decisions regarding the appropriate response to these increases.

The Global Information and Early Warning System has released its Global Food Price Monitor for March 2011. Access the full report at http://www.fao.org/giews/english/gfpm/GFPM_03_2011.pdf

Global food prices increased for the eighth consecutive month in February, according to the FAO Food Price Index. With the exception of sugar, prices of all agricultural commodities continue to rise, bringing the Price Index to its highest level on record. In particular, the FAO expects a sharp decline in cereal stocks in 2011 due to increased global demand and decreased production. Export prices of major grains have risen 70 percent since February 2010.

To view the full report, visit http://www.fao.org/worldfoodsituation/wfs-home/foodpricesindex/en/

The structure and behavior of agricultural input markets, such as fertilizer or seed markets, can have significant regional and global effects on agricultural development and, thus, food security. Prohibitively high costs and other constraints can limit the use of beneficial inputs and lead to decreased agricultural productivity, which can negatively impact farmers as well as consumers. On the other hand, input producers may benefit from higher prices.

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET), funded by USAID, has released its latest monthly price watch detailing staple food prices for February 2011. These reports provide food security updates for 25 countries vulnerable to food insecurity, focusing on impacts on livelihoods and markets. These updates can help policymakers recognize and mitigate potential threats to food security.

Download the latest reports below. For more information regarding FEWS NET, please visit www.fews.net.