USDA has released its latest quarterly grain stocks update and is seeing important reductions in grain stock-to-use ratios. These reductions are expected to continue impacting prices and trade; however, as they were anticipated by most major traders, they should not increase price volatility in the coming weeks.

For many poor rural farmers, getting their products to market is one of the most daunting obstacles they face. Markets in developing countries often have weak integration, characterized by a lack of communication and information-sharing; thus, while markets in one region may offer higher prices for a commodity, farmers in other regions have no way of learning about, and taking advantage of, these price differences.

In recent days, the price for soft wheat has increased, as has its volatility. This increase in volatility has likely stemmed from reports that cold weather in Europe may damage crops, a fear that may in fact have been overstated. Reports from Russia about a potential new levy on wheat exports starting in April 2012 may have also played a part in this week's increased volatility.

Asymmetry of information is a major obstacle to increasing global food security. Having access to reliable food price and market information is critical for policymakers, food policy experts, and researchers to be able to respond quickly to dynamic developments in the global food system.

Malawi's Ministry of Industry and Trade announced Wednesday the suspension of all exportation of maize and maize products, effective immediately. The government of Malawi has also nullified all licenses enabling grain traders to export the commodity. The move follows an estimate by the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee that 10 out of 28 districts in the country are at risk of maize shortage between December 2011 and February 2012.

Global food security is constantly impacted by many issues at the local, national, regional, and international levels - politics, agricultural market changes, fuel prices, weather conditions, war, speculation and trading, and many more. Keeping track of all of these developing issues is an overwhelming, but crucial, task for policymakers to appropriately address the needs of the world's food insecure populations.

FAO GIEWS released today the November 2011 Final Food Outlook, a comprehensive analysis of the global agricultural market situation. According to the report, the outlook for the agricultural commodities markets remains difficult to predict; despite improved supply prospects and weakening demand for several important commodities, volatile prices and the uncertain global economic situation continue to play a part in high food prices.

In a long-awaited move, the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission on October 18 approved limits on trading in the commodities markets. Specifically, the new rules limit the number of commodity contracts that any investor can hold in agriculture, energy, or metals contracts.

FEWS NET has released its Global Price Watch for September 2011, citing continuing high prices in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia. Africa's newest nation, South Sudan, is also facing increased prices on some staple goods due to conflict and trade restrictions. Global rice prices saw a moderate upswing, due in part to Thailand's new rice price subsidy.

View the full report and the annex

The HarvestChoice AgMarketFinder Tool is a collaborative development innovation from IFPRI, Esri, and SpatialDev.

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