In the past two decades, China has shifted from a net exporter of agricultural products, with a trade surplus of $2.3 billion, to the world's largest importer, with a trade deficit of $100 billion, according to a review of Chinese membership in the World Trade Organization. The flood of imports obscures China's position as the fourth largest ag exporter in the world, trailing the European Union, the United States and Brazil.
Global hunger levels are down by 27 percent since 2000 yet they remain at "serious," "alarming" or "extremely alarming" levels in 52 countries, said the think tank International Food Policy Research Institute in releasing its Global Hunger Index. Beyond the immediate impact of food shortages and climate change, "long-term obstacles to reducing hunger in several countries may also be threatening efforts to reach zero hunger," said IFPRI.
Despite a stagnant global economy, the world made progress against hunger, says the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in an annual report: "For the first time in modern history, the number of people living in extreme poverty fell below 10 percent of the global population and the global rate of under-nutrition was expected to fall below 11 percent." IFPRI singled out Bangladesh and Ethiopia for halving hunger rates since the 1990s.
Crop production in the Philippines will drop by 1.7 percent and put an additional 2 million people at risk of hunger due to climate change, "particularly troublesome in light of the Philippines' growing population," forecast to reach 142 million by 2045, said the think tank International Food Policy Research Institute. "Research also shows that effective policies can reduce those impacts."
The Sultan of Brunei, where nearly two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese, "called for swift action to address the issue of unhealthy lifestyles and diet," said The Brunei Times. The new edition of Global Nutrition Report by the think tank IFPRI named the country as having the highest obesity rate in Southeast Asia.
The $250,000 World Food Prize, sometimes called the Nobel of agriculture, was awarded to four scientists for development and promotion of biofortified crops, bred to include vitamins and micronutrients. An estimated 10 million people in Africa, Asia and Latin America already have better diets due to the improved staple crops, "with a potential of several hundred million more in the coming decades," said the prize foundation.
Hunger levels in 52 countries are "serious" or "alarming" despite progress in reducing food insecurity around the world, says the new edition of the Global Hunger Index. "The countries with the highest and worst GHI scores tend to be those engaged in or recently emerged from war," says the report by International Food Policy Research Institute, Welthungerhilfe, and Concern Worldwide. An unheralded achievement of recent decades, says the report, is the seeming disappearance of "calamitous famines" that kill more than 1 million people.
There is almost no risk that the United States will exceed WTO limits on agricultural subsidies with the 2014 farm law, but the picture could be far different if Doha Round proposals are adopted, according to three senior economists.
The International Food Policy Research Institute says five fast-growing, middle-income nations -- Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and Mexico -- also are home to nearly half the hungry people of the world.
USDA chief economist Joe Glauber, whose job required him to translate dry data into the story of U.S. agriculture for policymakers, is leaving USDA to become visiting senior fellow at a Washington think tank. His deputy, Robert Johansson, "will assume the duties of chief economist beginning January 1," said USDA. Glauber is shifting to International Food Policy Research Institute after 32 years with the federal government.
The 2014 farm law expanded the role of crop insurance in the farm safety net; making it the centerpiece of the farm program, according to some descriptions.
Mobile phones - and other types of communication technology - can be a powerful way to improve the welfare of the rural poor, writes Maximo Torero of the International Food Policy Research Institute.