Food assistance programs are a staple in the international development world, used to address both humanitarian crises and longer term development goals. But what type of food assistance program is most effective in the fight against hunger and malnutrition?
A new IFPRI report examines this question.

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?

As one of the world's most important staple crops, wheat plays a crucial role in the global agricultural economy and in global food security. The grain accounts for an estimated 20 percent of calories consumed throughout the world. But a burgeoning global population and changing climate are putting ever greater pressure on wheat farmers to produce bigger yields. A new multinational initiative, the Wheat Yield Network, has recently been launched to help raise global wheat yields and develop new wheat varieties that are better adapted to meet the world's changing needs.

Asia is home to more than two-thirds of the world's poor and hungry. And as populations around the world continue to grow, the region's most vulnerable people will be faced with even greater challenges in the coming decades. Climate change and unsustainable resource use are likely to impede agricultural productivity, exacerbating already high and volatile food prices and presenting significant barriers to poor populations' access to affordable food supplies. But the news is not all bad.

For many smallholder farmers, accessing larger, more lucrative markets can seem like an impossible proposition. While contract farming (a set agreement between a farmer and a buyer) can help establish set prices and more reliable links to domestic and international markets, contracts are typically signed with more educated, medium-sized farmers rather than smallholders.

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.

Recent financial crises have impacted nearly all aspects of the global economy, including foreign aid. With the "fiscal cliff" looming in the United States, development programs throughout the world could face even greater budget cuts in the coming months. As donor countries tighten their belts, greater attention must be paid to which types of programs and interventions have the most impact in developing countries.

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.

Ukraine has announced that it will be enforcing an export ban on wheat beginning on November 15. The move comes after poor weather impacted Ukraine’s wheat harvests and follows in the wake of the US drought, which decimated that country’s wheat crop and led to sharp increases in international prices. Ukraine’s exports are expected to reach 5.3 million tons in November, a level which the Ukrainian government says will exhaust the country’s exportable surpluses.

Since 2009, the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) has driven the European Union's policies on biofuels. The RED's current mandate states that 10% of the EU’s transportation fuel must come from renewable sources by 2020; it also mandates that only 5.6% of this can come from first-generation biofuels (i.e., biofuels produced from food crops such as maize).