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 a volatile few months following the US drought, global food prices stabilized in January, according to the FAO's latest edition of the Food Price Index. The Index averaged 210 points in January, unchanged from a revised December average.

The USDA's latest World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimate has been released, predicting low global wheat and corn stocks for 2012/2013. Global wheat supplies are projected to be slightly lower due to reduced production prospects in Argentina and lower reported production in Russia. US corn ending stocks are projected to be 44 million bushels lower; higher US wheat disappearance will leave the balance sheet historically tight and is expected to support continued strong and volatile prices.

The latest FAO Food Price Index averaged 209 points in December, down 2 points from November and the lowest level seen since June 2012. The drop is due mainly to declines in grains and oils/fats. Overall, global food prices in 2012 were 7 percent lower than in 2011.

Cereal prices dropped 6 points in December, led by weaker demand for feed grain and larger maize exports from South America. Rice prices also dipped due to expectations of a good harvest.

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.

The Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS) has released the latest edition of its monthly Market Monitor. This month's report sees stabilized world markets as forecasts for 2012-2013 crop outlooks become more finalized. Despite this stabilization, however, attention should be paid to ongoing weather concerns, particularly drought affecting US winter wheat.

The latest FAO Food Price Index was released today and is down three points from October's Index. This is the lowest point since June 2012. With the exception of dairy, all commodities covered by the Index fell in November.

The Cereals Price Index is down four points from October, but is still 27 points higher than it was in November 2011. Weakening global rice and wheat prices drove the fall and compensated for higher maize prices.

The latest FAO Food Outlook finds that, on average, global food prices have been 8 percent lower during 2012 than they were in 2011. Global food import bills are forecast at USD 1.14 trillion, which is 10 percent lower than the record import bills seen in 2011.

The Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS) has released the third edition of its monthly Market Monitor. The report examines global agricultural market and price trends.

The FAO released today its Food Price Index for November. The Index fell slightly in October to 213 points, largely due to lower international prices for cereals, oils, and fats. The report also finds that for the first 10 months of 2012, international food prices were on average eight percent lower than during the same period in 2011.