Photo Credit: Flickr: IITA

Improved seed varieties that are more resistant to heat, drought, and pests and disease can help farmers increase their crop yields and adapt to the effects of climate change. However, smallholder farmers often do not use improved seeds, because of prohibitively high costs, a lack of access to seed dealers, or a lack of information about the benefits of improved varieties.

Photo Credit: Flickr: WTO

Today’s global food and agriculture landscape is, in many ways, unrecognizable from what it was even at the start of the 21st century. From the widespread use of staple food crops for biofuel production to increased market volatility to growing threats from climate change, food security worldwide faces many new challenges. Add to that a burgeoning global population and complicated (and sometimes distortionary) national and international trade policies, and it becomes clear that policymakers need new, more coordinated options to ensure a food-secure future.

Photo Credit: Flickr: WTO

On December 19, the 159 members of the WTO concluded the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference with the signing of a new international trade agreement, the Nairobi Package. The agreement contains several important outcomes on the issue of agriculture and represents the first major achievement by the WTO on this issue since the end of the Uruguay Round talks and the birth of the organization in 1995.

BY: Summer Allen, Research Coordinator at IFPRI

To download the PDF version, click here.

Concerns have been growing over how the ongoing political turmoil in the Ukraine, the world's third largest maize exporter, could impact global grain prices and reserves in the coming year. While Ukraine has delivered the majority of its current export obligations, continuing conflict could pose problems for next season's planting and harvest, and thus future export shipments.

Global trade policies have the potential to significantly impact food security, for better or for worse. With the ninth WTO Ministerial Conference upcoming in Bali in December, some developing country leaders are pressing negotiators to keep this connection in mind and fast-track talks on proposed changes that would give developing countries greater flexibility in following the new WTO agricultural trade rules.

The WTO Doha Development Round trade negotiations have been at an impasse since their launch in 2001, and have gotten particularly bogged down over the difficult technical and political aspects of agricultural trade reform. Further complicating the talks is the fact that the global economic, trade, and geopolitical context has changed significantly since the Doha Round was launched.

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.

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.

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