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Contemporary Food Policy Challenges and Opportunities: A Political Economy Perspective


  • Andersen, Per Pinstrup


The global food system and related government policies are in disarray. In response to increasing food prices and greater food price volatility, national governments are pursuing a variety of policies to protect population groups of greatest importance for maintaining government legitimacy. Some of these policies are further amplifying price fluctuations while others are attempting to prohibit price signals from reaching consumers, traders and producers. Extreme weather events, irrational expectations by speculators, sensationalism by the news media, oil price fluctuations and the pursuit of self-interests by international organizations, NGOs and the private sector, have created a sense of uncertainty and heightened political risks among many governments. Together with the so-called “food riots,” which were driven by grievances of various kinds including but not limited to food price fluctuations, these perceived political risks have pushed governments of many developing country governments towards crisis management, short-term political interventions and bandage solutions. This paper discusses these interventions and suggests a set of policy challenges of a longer-term nature as well as related policies to achieve sustainable food security for all in the foreseeable future. The paper will argue that food price volatility will continue to be with us, but that real food prices need not increase. It will further show that the main bottlenecks in expanding food production in most low-income developing countries are found outside the farm and that government intervention in the food system should focus on improvements in rural infrastructure, domestic markets and policies to facilitate efficiency and effectiveness in post-harvest value chains and input sectors. Full costing of environmental damage caused by the food system is suggested to be implemented to help assure sustainability.

Suggested Citation

  • Andersen, Per Pinstrup, 2012. "Contemporary Food Policy Challenges and Opportunities: A Political Economy Perspective," 2012 Conference (56th), February 7-10, 2012, Fremantle, Australia 125081, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:aare12:125081
    DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.125081

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Juma, Calestous, 2011. "The New Harvest: Agricultural Innovation in Africa," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199783199.
    2. Chien-Chiang Lee & Yi-Bin Chiu & Chia-Hung Sun, 2009. "Does One Size Fit All? A Reexamination of the Environmental Kuznets Curve Using the Dynamic Panel Data Approach," Review of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 31(4), pages 751-778.
    3. Nin-Pratt, Alejandro & Johnson, Michael & Magalhaes, Eduardo & You, Liangzhi & Diao, Xinshen & Chamberlin, Jordan, 2011. "Yield gaps and potential agricultural growth in West and Central Africa:," Research reports alejandronin-pratt, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    4. Gordon C. Rausser & Johan Swinnen, 2010. "Governance Structures, Political Economy and Public Policy," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 93(2), pages 310-316.
    5. Pretty, J.N. & Ball, A.S. & Lang, T. & Morison, J.I.L., 2005. "Farm costs and food miles: An assessment of the full cost of the UK weekly food basket," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 1-19, February.
    6. Steven Haggblade, 2011. "Modernizing African agribusiness: reflections for the future," Journal of Agribusiness in Developing and Emerging Economies, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 1(1), pages 10-30, June.
    7. Gill, Gerard J., 1995. "Major natural resource management concerns in South Asia:," 2020 vision discussion papers 8, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    8. Taheripour, Farzad & Khanna, Madhu & Nelson, Charles, 2005. "Welfare Impacts of Alternative Public Policies for Environmental Protection in Agriculture in an Open Economy: A General Equilibrium Framework," 2005 Annual meeting, July 24-27, Providence, RI 19317, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    9. Pinstrup-Andersen, Per (ed.), 1993. "The political economy of food and nutrition policies," IFPRI books, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), number 0-8018-4480-0, September.
    10. Don J Webber & David O Allen, 2004. "Environmental Kuznets Curves: Mess or Meaning?," Working Papers 0406, Department of Accounting, Economics and Finance, Bristol Business School, University of the West of England, Bristol.
    11. Minot, Nicholas, 2010. "Transmission of World Food Price Changes to African Markets and its Effect on Household Welfare," Food Security Collaborative Working Papers 58563, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
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    Cited by:

    1. Mullen, John & Keogh, Mick, 2013. "The Future Productivity and Competitiveness Challenge for Australian Agriculture," 2013 Conference (57th), February 5-8, 2013, Sydney, Australia 152170, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society.


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