Globally, food prices are near their historic peaks, and food price volatility is widely seen as the “new normal.” Managing this volatility and feeding a rapidly growing population will require sustained commitment, co-ordination, and vigilance from the international community to help governments put policies in place to help people better cope. Read More »
Globally, food prices are near their historic peaks, and food price volatility is widely seen as the “new normal.” Managing this volatility and increasing food availability for a rapidly growing population will require sustained commitment, co-ordination, and vigilance from the international community to help governments put policies in place to help people better cope.
When faced with high food prices, many of the poorest families cope by pulling their children out of school and eating cheaper, less nutritious food, which can have catastrophic life-long effects on the social, physical, and mental well-being of millions of young people. Malnutrition contributes to infant, child and maternal illness; decreased learning capacity; lower productivity and higher mortality. One-third of all child deaths globally are attributed to under-nutrition, and up to 80% of our brain architecture develops during the first 1,000 days of life.
Investment in agriculture and rural development to boost food production and nutrition is a priority for the World Bank Group, which works through several partnerships to improve all aspects of food security, from encouraging climate-smart farming techniques and restoring degraded farmland to breeding more resilient and nutritious crops to improving storage and supply chains for less food loss. In fiscal year 2013, new World Bank Group commitments to agriculture and related sectors reached $8 billion.
Last Updated: Nov 15, 2013
The World Bank has engaged in policy dialogue with more than 40 countries, at their request, to assist them to address the food crises of 2008 and 2010 and the “new normal” of high and volatile food prices that have continued since then. Instruments used in this work include rapid country diagnostics, high-level dialogue, public communications, and in-depth analytical work, including the quarterly Food Price Watch report.
The World Bank is improving global collaboration in the generation and sharing of knowledge between agriculture, food security, and nutrition through the SecureNutrition knowledge platform. As a part of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement, 100 partners – including the World Bank – have endorsed the Scaling Up Nutrition Framework for Action to address undernutrition.
In addition, the Bank supports agricultural research developing more robust, nutritious, and climate-resilient crops through the CGIAR agricultural research partnership. A CGIAR Multi-Donor Trust Fund established to harmonize donor investments is hosted and managed by the World Bank.
The Bank Group also supports financial market insurance and risk management. In developing countries, farmers, agro-enterprises, and governments can employ a range of technical, managerial, and financial approaches to mitigate, transfer, and cope with risks. The World Bank supports the development and implementation of agricultural sector and supply chain risk management strategies in a growing number of developing countries through the provision of technical assistance, capacity transfer, and training.
The World Bank is also actively engaged with the United Nations High-Level Task Force on the Global Food Security Crisis, providing both financial support to the high-level task force through the World Bank's Development Grant Facility, and participating in the updating of the UN’s Comprehensive Framework for Action (CFA). The World Bank contributes to agriculture and food security recommendations for the G20, and, in collaboration with partners, is implementing G20 initiatives to address food price volatility, including the Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS) launched to improve global agricultural market transparency. The World Bank also regularly participates in the Multilateral Development Banks’ Working Group on Food and Water Security.
Expediting financial support
In 2008, the Bank’s Board of Executive Directors endorsed the Global Food Price Crisis Response Program (GFRP), initially a $1.2 billion rapid financing facility providing financial assistance as well as policy and technical advice to the poorest and most vulnerable countries. In 2009, the Bank increased the size of the facility to $2 billion and extended the program until June 2012 to allow for a swift response to calls for assistance from countries hard hit by price spikes. To date, The GFRP has reached nearly 66 million vulnerable people in 49 countries.
In September 2009, the G20 asked the World Bank to prepare a multilateral mechanism to help implement pledges to long-term food security made at the L’Aquila summit in July 2009. Launched in April 2010, The Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) is intended to fill financing gaps in national and regional agriculture and food security strategies. Eight countries and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have pledged about $1.3 billion over three years, with $1.1 billion received. Since May 2010, 25 countries have been allocated $912 million from the Public Sector Window of GAFSP.
For IBRD/IDA, assistance to agriculture and related sectors has risen from an average of 9 percent of total lending in FY10-12, to 12 percent in FY13. At US$4.4 billion, the International Finance Corporation’s (IFC) investments were at the highest level ever. Altogether, the commitments meet the projection in the World Bank Group's Agriculture Action Plan 2013-2015, of between US$8 billion and US$10 billion. World Bank IBRD/IDA agricultural assistance to Sub-Saharan Africa was particularly strong, reaching US$1.4 billion, a 35 percent increase over FY10-12.
Last Updated: Nov 15, 2013
The resources made available through the Global Food Price Crisis Response Program are having a significant impact on the ground. In Niger, for example, rice yields in irrigated plots treated with the recommended dose of fertilizers exceeded the baseline average per hectare (ha) by 116% (5.4 tons/ha versus 2.5 tons/ha), which helped to benefit 33 rice producer cooperatives encompassing 20,784 farmers. In Nicaragua, the project provided school lunches to 609,000 pre-school and primary school children leading to higher retention rates in targeted areas.
Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) support in Rwanda over the past year has helped to increase the proportion of land protected against soil erosion from 15 percent to 41 percent of the initial area being treated, and net sales from agricultural activities on targeted non-irrigated hillsides is US$1,925/ha, up more than 90 percent from the baseline of US$1,000/ha. In Sierra Leone, 193 agricultural business centers have received organizational development assistance, 321 ha of inland valley swamp land has rehabilitated irrigation, and the capacity of the public agricultural extension services at district level has been improved.
In addition, GAFSP supports six investment projects and 11 advisory services projects through the International Finance Corporation (IFC) designed to increase private sector activities in GAFSP countries. For example, it has allocated US$5 million to Root Capital, a social development financier dedicated to the “missing middle”, US$20 million to the Global Warehouse Finance Program supported by the IFC, and €10.6 million for Velocity Dairy in Ethiopia. The Second Call for Proposals for the Private Sector Window of GAFSP, which closed in January 2013, generated 89 proposals, one of which has already resulted in a $6 million investment in africaJUICE, a fruit processor in Ethiopia, which will maximize synergies between the two windows and ensure complementary GAFSP financing.