The World Food Crisis: Causes and Challenges

Rapidly rising food prices world-wide have drawn attention back to one of the most important sectors of any economy: the food sector. The doubling and in some cases tripling of prices for some food grains has endangered food security for many people, often pushing them over the poverty threshold. Social unrest and political upheaval have followed. Longer term demand and supply trends explain part of the price rise.

Underinvestment in agriculture caused by low prices, declining support for agriculture and agricultural innovation development by international and bilateral development institutions, neglect of agriculture by governments in many developing countries and new demands for biofuels have enlarged the gap between demand and supply for grains, adding additional fuel to the price explosion.

In his paper The World Food Crisis: Causes and Challenges, Franz Heidhues discusses the factors behind the food crisis, the volatility of food markets and the policies and actions needed to respond to the world food crisis.

Franz Heidhues, The World Food Crisis: Causes and Challenges. Proceedings of the Jeju Peace Institute – Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty Joint Workshops 2007-2008. In: Challenge and response in northeast Asia: Fulfilling the Jeju Process., Seoul, Korea, JPI; 2009.