Source: © 2011 G.M.B. Akash/Panos

In recent years, the world has faced continuing food security challenges. The food price spikes of 2007-2008 and 2010-2011 brought lasting impacts in the form of increasingly high food prices and price volatility, overwhelmingly harming the world's poorest producers and consumers. Guarding against price volatility to protect the world's most vulnerable populations will require restructuring global agricultural and financial markets, a need that global leaders are now beginning to recognize and address.

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.

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 just released an update on flooding in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Due to excessive rainfall in July, the southern provinces are experiencing severe flooding and localized crop damage.

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The Asian Development Bank released a report this week suggesting that rising world food prices could drive 64 million people into poverty in the region and reduce economic growth by as much as 1.5 percentage points. Surging oil prices, declining grain stocks, increased demand for biofuels, and production shortfalls due to negative climatic events have all combined to increase both domestic and international food prices. This rise in the cost of food presents a serious challenge to the region's economic recovery and growth.

The FAO Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS) has released a special food security report on Lao People's Democratic Republic. This report is based on an evaluation mission conducted at the request of the Lao Ministry of Agricultural and Forestry to investigate concerns over inadequate 2010 rainfall.

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The FAO Global Information and Early Warning System on Food and Agriculture (GIEWS) has released several special alerts since the start of 2011. GIEWS alerts are the result of rapid evaluation missions and give information on countries' crop production, food supply situation at national and sub-national levels, and food aid needs. This regional and country-level information is essential for the international community to respond to crises in the developing world. Recent alerts have covered recent droughts in China and floods in South Africa.

The World Bank has released its Food Price Watch for February, citing estimates that suggest an additional 44 million people may have fallen into poverty in low- and middle-income
countries due to the rise in food prices since June 2010. The overall global rise in food prices has been driven by increases in the prices of wheat, maize, sugar, and fats and oils. (Track the rise in global commodities prices and futures prices with agricultural commodities tools )

A child in Bangladesh receives nutritional supplements.

The FAO has released its Food Price Index for January, 2011. This report provides a measure of the monthly change in international prices for major food commodities. The January Price Index rose for the seventh consecutive month, showing a marked increase in the global price of all major commodities. Such an increase makes this month's Price Index the highest (in both real and nominal terms) since the index was first backtracked in 1990.

To view the whole report, visit http://www.fao.org/worldfoodsituation/FoodPricesIndex/en/

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