Cross-posted from
*By Marcia MacNeil

West Africa is on the cusp: after years of stagnation and decline, the region has seen steady growth for nearly two decades, and is moving from recovery to transformation

Cross-posted from
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?

Economic growth in the developing world relies heavily on credit, grants, and loans. But increasing poor populations' access to these financial vehicles brings with it a significant amount of risk for lenders, both public and private. When selecting development interventions to financially support, lenders and donors are often faced with an "either/or" proposition - they can fund either more sustainable (and thus less risky) projects that may have lower poverty-reducing effects or less sustainable projects that will have a higher impact on poverty.

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.

Asia is a region characterized by unique agricultural and economic opportunities and challenges. In recent years, many Asian countries have made great strides in transforming their agricultural systems and reducing their numbers of poor and malnourished. Despite this progress, however, the region remains home to most of the world's poor and hungry, and faces additional challenges in the form of environmental degradation and climate change.

One of the most populous countries in the developing world, Bangladesh has made impressive strides in recent years in both food self-sufficiency and poverty reduction. Since 1990, Bangladesh's Global Hunger Index score has fallen from 37.9 to 24.0, meaning a fall from extremely alarming levels of hunger. And from 2000 - 2010, the incidence of poverty in the country declined from 49 percent to 32 percent. Still, much remains to be done to ensure that the country continues its upward climb.

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.