Reflections on food crises past
World food crises are relatively rare events, occurring roughly three times a century. But they also tend to be regular events, every three decades or so, suggesting there is an underlying cyclical cause. If so, far-sighted donor and government investments in raising agricultural productivity, and policies on behalf of stable food production and prices, might go a long way to preventing food crises in the future. Preventing food crises rather than trying to cope after the fact with their impact on the poor is the only way to avoid substantial, perhaps permanent, damage to the welfare of poor households. Lessons from the world food crises in 1972/73 and in 2007/08, especially lessons from how the world rice market functioned, point the way toward improved food policy management at national and international levels in the future.
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