Farmers’ ability to access reliable and inclusive systems of finance is critical for agricultural growth and economic development. Proper financing enables farmers to make long-term productive investments and to overcome short-term crises.

The 2015 Global Hunger Index reports that despite progress in reducing hunger worldwide, hunger levels in 52 of 117 countries remain “serious” or “alarming.” The FAO’s 2015 State of Food Insecurity report estimates that 795 million people are undernourished, with uneven levels of undernourishment across countries. Simultaneously, the World Health Organization estimates that 1.9 billion adults are overweight.

The FAO’s monthly report on food price trends was released on July 11. The bulletin reports on recent food price developments at the global, regional, and country levels, with a focus on developing countries and provides early warnings for high country-level food prices that may negatively affect food security.

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The FAO Food Price Index rose again in June for the fifth consecutive month, based largely on surging sugar prices and more moderate increases for cereals, dairy, and meat. The 6.6 point increase represents the largest monthly movement in the last four years.

The Cereals Index rose 4.4 points from May, but remains 3.9 percent below June 2015 levels. Strengthened maize prices drove most of this month's increases, as tightening export supplies in Brazil caused prices to rise.

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The FAO’s biannual report on global food markets was released this month. The report provides an overview of global trends for several main agricultural products, including wheat, coarse grains, rice, oilcrops, meat, and milk and fishery products, as well as a special feature on pulses. The report also provides a country-level review of major policy developments for grains, rice, oilcrops, meat, and dairy.

In December 2015, the World Trade Organization reached an agreement on the Nairobi Package, the latest set of rules governing global trade.

On May 12, the USAID Agrilinks program held a webinar on a new report released by the World Bank, entitled Enabling the Business of Agriculture 2016: Comparing Regulatory Good Practices. The event examined the report’s key findings and discussed the objectives and future path of the Enabling the Business of Agriculture (EBA) project.

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The world’s urban population is growing rapidly. According to a new publication from The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, more people live in urban areas than rural areas today, and by 2060, 66 percent of the world’s population will live in cities. This growth is particularly obvious in developing regions.

International wheat price trends were mixed in April but were still lower than wheat prices seen a year ago, according to the latest Food Price Monitoring and Analysis Bulletin released this week. The price of US hard red winter wheat fell three percent in April as a result of improved production prospects in several key producing areas. Global maize prices were up from March due to increased export demand and concerns about production in South America; however, April maize prices also remained lower than the previous year's levels.

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In the latest Monthly Price Watch, released by FEWS Net on April 29, international prices of maize, wheat, rice, and soybeans were reported stable in March, and below their respective 2015 levels. The report also sees well supplied international markets for these staple foods.

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