Cross-posted from IFPRI.org
By Grace Lerner

Nearly 30 years after the 1984 famine that left more than 400,000 people dead, Ethiopia has made significant progress toward food security. Some of these recent successes include a reduction in poverty, an increase in crop yields and availability, and an increase in per capita income—rising in some rural areas by more than 50 percent!

What happened to cause this breakthrough, and what steps does the country need to stay on track?

A new report from IFPRI, WFP, and Egypt's Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) finds that in 2011, food insecurity affected an estimated 17 percent of the population, or 13.7 million people. This number is up from 2009, when 14 percent of the population suffered from food insecurity. Poverty has also risen during this time, with 15 percent of the population moving into poverty between 2009 and 2011.

Fertilizer is a key piece of the puzzle when it comes to improving agricultural yields in developing countries. Despite widespread recognition of fertilizer's importance, however, many African farmers use substantially less fertilizer than their counterparts in Latin America and Asia. A new article in IFPRI's Insights Magazine examines why this is so, and how increasing competition in the global fertilizer market could help close the gap.

After being largely eliminated by structural adjustment programs in the 1980s and 1990s, large-scale input subsidy programs are regaining popularity throughout the developing world, particularly in Africa south of the Sahara. It's estimated that African countries spend, on average, 30 percent of their agriculture budgets on these programs, which aim to increase small farmers' investments in new technologies and increase agricultural production. Despite these programs' widespread use, however, debate abounds about how efficient input subsidy programs actually are.

Cross-posted from the International Food Policy Research Institute
By Sarah Dalane

Ethiopia faces many challenges, but the country is quickly shedding its label as one of the world’s poorest countries, finding itself today among the world’s 10 fastest growing economies. The question now at hand is how to sustain this historic growth, and emerge as a middle-income country by 2025. The Ethiopian government is turning to its leading—but one of its most underperforming— industries for the answer: agriculture.

One of the biggest challenges faced by smallholder farmers today is climate change, and the increasingly variable weather patterns that result from it. While farmers in some tropical regions may benefit from rising temperatures, the majority of the world's smallholders will face increased hardship as a result of warmer weather and uncertain rainfall. Future food security, particularly for developing countries, will depend on how populations react to and cope with the challenges presented by climate change.

Small farms, meaning farms with two ha of land or less, make up 80 percent of all farm holdings in Africa south of the Sahara (SSA). Such a large population clearly has the power to spur economic development in the region, and needs to be included in any economic discussion. But smallholders often find themselves confined to local markets or subsistence-level farming, leaving them trapped in poverty. What can be done to allow Africa's small farms to reach their full potential?

A new report from the African Development Bank (AfDB) examines the food security situation and needs of North Africa. The Political Economy of Food Security in North Africa finds that the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is the world's largest importer of cereals, with dependence on food imports expected to increase by 2050 due to a burgeoning population, decreasing agricultural productivity, and rising incomes.

At the World Summit of Food Security in 2009, the definition of food security was expanded to include nutrition as a critical component of the overall concept of food security. Despite increased recognition of the importance of nutrition, however, many Arab countries continue to struggle with malnutrition, particularly among children.

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