AGRODEP (African Growth and Development Policy Modeling Consortium) has now launched its third round of membership application. Qualified economists from Africa are eligible; membership provides free access to cutting-edge economic research tools, resources, and training that may otherwise be unavailable to researchers in the region.

FEWS NET has released its monthly price watch for February 2012. The report cites stable and declining grain prices in much of West and East Africa, although prices remain high in the Sahel region and Kenya. In particular, grain prices in South Sudan remain very high due to poor production and trade; similarly, maize prices in Malawi continue to increase rapidly. Afghanistan and Tajikistan continue to see high wheat and wheat flour prices.

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A Policy Dialogue on Food Security Information Needs in Kenya, co-organized by IFPRI and KIPPRA, was held in Nairobi, Kenya in March of 2011. To revisit some of the more pressing issues to have emerged from this Policy Dialogue, IFPRI and KIPPRA call for the development of two papers. (For access to the Policy Dialogue proceedings report, please contact Jenna Ferguson at


The two paper topics highlight main discussion points from the Policy Dialogue:

FEWS NET has released a new outlook report for West Africa/Sahel. The report states that crisis-level food insecurity is expected to continue in a number of areas in the region, based on current market prices, trade patterns, labor conditions, and social conditions. Chronic malnutrition is expected to rise above 15 percent.

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FEWS NET has released its Food Price Watch for January 2012. The report details the food security situation throughout Africa, where prices in Uganda, Ethiopia, and Somalia have declined. Kenyan maize prices remain extremely high, as do prices in West Africa.

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Malawi's Ministry of Industry and Trade announced Wednesday the suspension of all exportation of maize and maize products, effective immediately. The government of Malawi has also nullified all licenses enabling grain traders to export the commodity. The move follows an estimate by the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee that 10 out of 28 districts in the country are at risk of maize shortage between December 2011 and February 2012.

With the price of basic food items on the rise, global policymakers are again faced with the need to protect the world’s most vulnerable populations. Women and young children tend to be most negatively impacted by sharp increases in the price of food. However, while extensive research has been conducted on the causes and consequences of the 2007-08 food price crisis, little of that research has focused specifically on the impact of the crisis on women, and whether the impact differs for women compared to men.

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.

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

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.