Latest Update – November 13, 2023
Domestic food price inflation remains high. Inflation higher than 5% is experienced in 52.4% of low-income countries, 88.6% of lower-middle-income countries, and 61% of upper-middle-income countries and many experiencing double-digit inflation. In addition, 67.3% of high-income countries are experiencing high food price inflation. The most-affected countries are in Africa, North America, Latin America, South Asia, Europe, and Central Asia. In real terms, food price inflation exceeded overall inflation in 76% in 166 countries.
The agriculture and export price indices closed 1% and 2% higher, respectively, while the cereal price index closed 1% lower compared to two weeks ago. Among cereals, maize and rice prices closed 2% lower, while wheat prices closed by 2% higher compared to two weeks ago. On a year-on-year basis, maize and wheat prices are 29% and 33% lower, respectively, while rice prices are 37% higher. Compared to January 2021, maize prices are 8% lower, wheat prices are 10% lower, while rice prices are 16% higher. (See “pink sheet” data for agricultural commodity and food commodity prices indices, updated monthly.)
In the most recent Commodity Markets Outlook, the World Bank’s fertilizer price index was 3% higher in the third quarter of 2023 relative to the previous quarter. This was primarily due to a surge in urea prices, as a result of production disruptions and only partially offset by declining phosphate and potash prices. Over the past year, fertilizer prices dropped by nearly 35%, closely mirroring energy prices, especially for natural gas. Fertilizer affordability approached its 2012–19 average. Prior to the conflict in the Middle East, the agricultural price index fell by 3% in the third quarter 2023, driven primarily by a 3% drop in food prices, which constitute nearly two-thirds of the agricultural index. Since the onset of the conflict, agricultural prices have increased nearly 4%. A key risk for food prices is the potential escalation of conflict in the Middle East. This could lead to higher oil prices, which in turn would increase the costs of producing and transporting food and fertilizers. Additionally, if natural gas and coal prices increase, or if the conflict affects major nitrogen-based fertilizer exporters in the region, fertilizer prices may also increase, further impacting food costs.
The November 2023 edition of the AMIS Market Monitor shared some key developments in the commodity markets for wheat, maize, rice, and soybeans. Production forecasts for all four crops remained virtually unchanged from October, but it is forecast that wheat production will be 2.2% lower in 2023 than in 2022. By contrast, maize, rice, and soybean production in 2023 is projected to be 4.5%, 0.8%, and 7.3% higher, respectively, than in 2022. In terms of crop conditions, dryness in the southern hemisphere, particularly in Argentina and Australia, is anticipated to result in below-average wheat yields. In the northern hemisphere, winter planting is underway with mixed conditions. For maize, China, Russia, and the United States are expected to have near-average harvests despite some localized drought-like conditions, while sowing conditions are favorable in Brazil but not in Argentina. In the case of rice, harvest conditions are favorable in China and north India, but limited rains have impacted the planting season in certain parts of Southeast Asia. For soybeans, harvests in Canada and the United States, as well as sowing in Brazil, have been affected by mixed weather conditions, but significant yield impacts are not expected.
The latest Hunger Hotspots report by FAO and WFP identifies 18 hotspots (including 22 countries and territories) that will require urgent action between November 2023 and April 2024. Burkina Faso, Mali, Palestine, South Sudan, and Sudan are hunger hotspots of the highest concern, with significant numbers of people at risk of Famine (Integrated Food Security Phase Classification/Cadre Harmonisé (IPC/CH) Phase 5) or Emergency food insecurity (IPC/CH Phase 4) that is likely to worsen in the coming months. These countries were also highlighted as being of most concern in the previous update in May 2023, with the exception of Palestine, which was added because of the severe escalation of conflict there this past month. Conflict, climate, and the economy are the primary drivers of food insecurity.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, trade-related policies imposed by countries have surged. The global food crisis has been partially made worse by the growing number of food trade restrictions put in place by countries with a goal of increasing domestic supply and reducing prices. As of November 6, 2023, 19 countries have implemented 27 food export bans, and 9 have implemented 18 export-limiting measures.
World Bank Action
In May 2022, the World Bank made a commitment of making available $30 billion over a period of 15 months to tackle the crisis. We have surpassed that goal. The World Bank has scaled up its food and nutrition security response, to now making $45 billion available through a combination of $22 billion in new lending and $23 billion from existing portfolio.
Our food and nutrition security portfolio now spans across 90 countries. It includes both short term interventions such as expanding social protection, also longer-term resilience such as boosting productivity and climate-smart agriculture.
The Bank's intervention is expected to benefit 335 million people, equivalent to 44% of the number of undernourished people. Around 53% of the beneficiaries are women – they are disproportionately more affected by the crisis. Some examples include:
- The $2.75 billion Food Systems Resilience Program for Eastern and Southern Africa, helps countries in Eastern and Southern Africa increase the resilience of the region’s food systems and ability to tackle growing food insecurity. Now in phase three, the program will enhance inter-agency food crisis response also boost medium- and long-term efforts for resilient agricultural production, sustainable development of natural resources, expanded market access, and a greater focus on food systems resilience in policymaking.
- A $95 million credit from IDA for the Malawi Agriculture Commercialization Project (AGCOM) to increase commercialization of select agriculture value chain products and to provide immediate and effective response to an eligible crisis or emergency.
- The $200 million IDA grant for Madagascar to strengthen decentralized service delivery, upgrade water supply, restore and protect landscapes, and strengthen the resilience of food and livelihood systems in the drought-prone ‘Grand Sud’.
- A $60 million credit for the Integrated Community Development Project that works with refugees and host communities in four northern provinces of Burundi to improve food and nutrition security, build socio-economic infrastructure, and support micro-enterprise development through a participatory approach.
- The $175 million Sahel Irrigation Initiative Regional Support Project is helping build resilience and boost productivity of agricultural and pastoral activities in Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Senegal. More than 130,000 farmers and members of pastoral communities are benefiting from small and medium-sized irrigation initiatives. The project is building a portfolio of bankable irrigation investment projects of around 68,000 ha, particularly in medium and large-scale irrigation in the Sahel region.
- Through the $50 million Emergency Food Security Response project, 329,000 smallholder farmers in Central Africa Republic have received seeds, farming tools and training in agricultural and post-harvest techniques to boost crop production and become more resilient to climate and conflict risks.
- The $15 million Guinea Bissau Emergency Food Security Project is helping increase agriculture production and access to food to vulnerable families. Over 72,000 farmers have received drought-resistant and high-yielding seeds, fertilizers, agricultural equipment; and livestock vaccines for the country-wide vaccination program. In addition, 8,000 vulnerable households have received cash transfer to purchase food and tackle food insecurity.
- The $60 million Accelerating the Impact of CGIAR Research for Africa (AICCRA) project has reached nearly 3 million African farmers (39% women) with critical climate smart agriculture tools and information services in partnership with the Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers (CGIAR). These tools and services are helping farmers to increase production and build resilience in the face of climate crisis. In Mali, studies showed that farmers using recommendations from the AICCRA-supported RiceAdvice had on average 0.9 ton per hectare higher yield and US$320 per hectare higher income.
- The $766 million West Africa Food Systems Resilience Program is working to increase preparedness against food insecurity and improve the resilience of food systems in West Africa. The program is increasing digital advisory services for agriculture and food crisis prevention and management, boosting adaption capacity of agriculture system actors, and investing in regional food market integration and trade to increase food security. An additional $345 million is currently under preparation for Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.
- A $150 million grant for the second phase of the Yemen Food Security Response and Resilience Project, which will help address food insecurity, strengthen resilience and protect livelihoods.
- $50 million grant of additional financing for Tajikistan to mitigate food and nutrition insecurity impacts on households and enhance the overall resilience of the agriculture sector.
- A $125 million project in Jordan aims to strengthen the development the agriculture sector by enhancing its climate resilience, increasing competitiveness and inclusion, and ensuring medium- to long-term food security.
- A $300 million project in Bolivia that will contribute to increasing food security, market access and the adoption of climate-smart agricultural practices.
- A $315 million loan to support Chad, Ghana and Sierra Leone to increase their preparedness against food insecurity and to improve the resilience of their food systems.
- A $500 million Emergency Food Security and Resilience Support Project to bolster Egypt's efforts to ensure that poor and vulnerable households have uninterrupted access to bread, help strengthen the country's resilience to food crises, and support to reforms that will help improve nutritional outcomes.
- A $130 million loan for Tunisia, seeking to lessen the impact of the Ukraine war by financing vital soft wheat imports and providing emergency support to cover barley imports for dairy production and seeds for smallholder farmers for the upcoming planting season.
In May 2022, the World Bank Group and the G7 Presidency co-convened the Global Alliance for Food Security, which aims to catalyze an immediate and concerted response to the unfolding global hunger crisis. The Alliance has developed the publicly accessible Global Food and Nutrition Security Dashboard, which provides timely information for global and local decision-makers to help improve coordination of the policy and financial response to the food crisis.
The heads of the FAO, IMF, World Bank Group, WFP, and WTO released a Third Joint Statement on February 8, 2023. The statement calls to prevent a worsening of the food and nutrition security crisis, further urgent actions are required to (i) rescue hunger hotspots, (ii) facilitate trade, improve the functioning of markets, and enhance the role of the private sector, and (iii) reform and repurpose harmful subsidies with careful targeting and efficiency. Countries should balance short-term urgent interventions with longer-term resilience efforts as they respond to the crisis.
Last Updated: Nov 13, 2023