FEWS NET has released its April Food Price Watch, citing stable prices throughout much of Africa and Central America. The Sahel region saw relatively stable cereals prices due to food assistance interventions and successful transport from surplus areas. In East Africa, staple prices remained generally stable, though high; some areas in this region saw seasonal increases.

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The new report cites an important pattern of declining rainfall, particularly in the heavily populated areas of the Rift Valley. Extended drier weather could increase the number of Ethiopians at risk for food insecurity in the next two decades if agricultural development is not increased in other areas of the country.

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The USDA Economic Research Service (ERS) has released its monthly crops outlook. The reports track US and international production, stocks, and trade data for major commodities and agricultural goods. The April reports cite an anticipated reduction in US soybean acreage due to a surge in corn planting; Brazil and Argentina also saw reductions in their estimated soybean production due to drought. These reductions could bring global soybean export levels down by 4 percent.

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The FAO Food Price Index for March averages 216 points, virtually unchanged from February's FPI at 215 points. Cereal prices also rose only one point. Low maize inventories and a strong soybean market caused a slight increase in maize prices, but sufficient wheat supplies kept that commodity's prices stable. Overall, only oils/fats prices showed strong growth due to a tightening of the expected 2011/2012 supply and demand balance.

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FAO has released the latest global Food Price Index, citing a 1% increase in food prices in February. Despite this increase, the Food Price Index for February remains 10% below its peak in February 2011.

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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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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FAO has released its Food Price Index for January 2012. Global food prices rose nearly 2 percent in January, marking the first increase since July 2011. Despite this increase, food prices remain 7 percent lower than the same time last year. For cereals, maize saw the steepest rise last month, reflecting concerns over crop prospects in South America. Wheat also rose due to unfavorable weather events and depleting exports from Russia.

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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