The latest FEWS Net Monthly Price Watch was released last week, citing generally stable international staple grain prices.

As the global population continues to grow and become more urbanized, smallholder farmers will play a critical role in feeding the world. Despite their importance to global food security, however, these farmers face daunting challenges in the form of climate change, price volatility, limited access to credit and insurance, and inadequate access to nutritious food. And addressing these challenges effectively is complicated even further by the fact that small farmers have widely varying needs, advantages, and abilities.

The European Union could be on the road to more stringent biofuel regulations. In a hard-won compromise, the European Parliament’s Environmental (ENVI) Committee on July 11 voted to cap the transportation industry’s use of first-generation biofuels at 5.5% and to require reporting of the indirect land use changes (ILUC) caused by biofuel production. The vote also calls for countries and suppliers to promote the use of alternative biofuel sources, such as algae and straw.

Cross-posted from the CGIAR's Climate Change, Agriculture, and Food Security (CCAFS) blog
By Cecilia Schubert

Many of today's young Africans grew up watching their parents sow and dig tirelessly on their farms, using tools that give you a backache just by looking at them.

With this in mind, can we really blame youngsters for not wanting to become smallholder farmers as adults?

The African Growth and Development Policy (AGRODEP) Modeling Consortium recently issued its second annual call for "Gaps in Research" Grants. These grants support research on emerging issues in Africa that have previously received little or no attention. The selected topic of this year’s grant is “Barriers to the expansion of agriculture and agroindustry in Africa”.

The FAO has released the latest version of its Food Price Index. The June Index was almost 2 points below May levels, but remained 11 points higher than in June 2012. The slight decline came mainly from sugar and dairy prices.

The Cereals Price Index also declined slightly by 2.5 points in June on expectations of bumper global crops. Tight coarse grain supplies are expected to continue until harvests in the fall, however, and the Index remains 14 points above its June 2012 level.

Last week, India’s executive branch passed the historic National Food Security Bill (NFSB), an act that will dramatically increase the number of people who receive food subsidies from the government. While India’s existing food distribution system, the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), is already enormous, the NFSB proposes to increase coverage to 75% of India’s rural population and 50% of the urban population – a whopping 800 million people.

The latest FEWS Net Monthly Price Watch was released today. The report saw stable global rice and wheat prices in May, although wheat prices remain at high levels. Rice production is on track to surpass last year's record harvests, and rice prices are expected to remain relatively stable for the rest of the year. Global maize prices increased on delayed planting in North America, caused mainly by poor weather conditions.