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Agricultural goods are the most common target of export taxes

Thursday, September 17, 2015

During the surges in world agricultural and food prices over 2006-12, many countries restricted agricultural exports by implementing taxes, quotas, or complete export bans. Taxing exports is a longstanding practice among many countries. An ERS analysis of reports by the World Trade Organization found that from 1995 to 2014, 74 countries and trading blocs (out of 121 that were reviewed) applied export taxes for products such as agricultural goods, fishery/forestry products, and minerals/metals, with 58 of these countries taxing at least one agricultural product. Reasons to tax exports include obtaining revenue, supporting the domestic processing sector by reducing the price of raw materials, and—if the exported good is a food product—benefiting domestic consumers and improving the country’s food security. For countries that are important suppliers to world markets, export taxes can lead to higher prices worldwide due to the reduced volume of exports resulting from the tax, thus benefitting competing suppliers while hurting foreign consumers. The chart is based on the report Alternative Policies to Agricultural Export Taxes That Are Less Market Distorting, ERR-187.

Food insecurity to remain most severe in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2015

Monday, September 14, 2015

Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) will remain the most food-insecure region in the world in 2015, according to the USDA International Food Security Assessment: 2015-2025. The 39 SSA countries included in the study account for about 25 percent of the population of the 76 countries covered, but more than half of the global population estimated to be food insecure in 2015. The intensity of food insecurity in the region is highlighted by the fact that it accounts for roughly 90 percent of the distribution gap—the estimated amount of food needed to raise food consumption in all income groups to the nutritional target of 2,100 calories per day—in 2015. There is, however, wide variation in levels of food security within SSA. In 20 of the 39 countries, 80 percent or more of the population is estimated to be food secure in 2015. On the other hand, there are 9 countries where 90 percent or more of the population is estimated to be food insecure: the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Eritrea, Somalia, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, and Chad. Find this chart and additional information in International Food Security Assessment: 2015-2025.

Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa rely more on grain imports to improve food security

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Low- and middle-income countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) have, as a whole, expanded their grain imports faster than similar countries in other regions. Increasing reliance on imports has improved food supplies, but increased the region’s vulnerability to higher world prices. Food-insecure countries can improve their availability of food either by expanding production, increasing imports, or reducing population growth. ERS analysis found that many countries adopt more than one of these strategies, but that SSA countries have expanded grain imports the fastest, nearly tripling imports since 1995. Low- and middle-income Asian countries, despite their relatively large populations, have shown the least growth in grain trade and have instead focused on improving food security by expanding their own production. Latin American and Caribbean countries have shown increases in both grain imports and local production. Regardless of the strategy adopted, 37 food insecure countries (nearly half of the 76 countries studied) were successful in meeting the goal set in the 1996 World Food Summit of halving their food-insecure populations by 2015. Find this chart and additional information in International Food Security Assessment: 2015-2025.

Sub-Saharan Africa food aid receipts variable but declining

Friday, May 15, 2015

Sub-Saharan Africa food aid receipts have generally declined over the past 10 years, but remain highly variable and continue to account for the largest regional share of global food aid. Annual fluctuations in food aid to the region is partly a result of the shift in the composition of food aid from program aid to meeting more variable emergency assistance needs; emergency assistance accounted for about half of all food aid in 2000, rising to about 70 percent in 2012. Several of the recent major food aid recipient countries in the region, including Sudan and Somalia, are countries with significant emergency needs associated with domestic supply shortages and/or civil unrest. The general decline in Sub-Saharan African food aid receipts since the early 2000’s is partly due to improved supply conditions in some countries in the region, and partly due to the decline in the volume global food aid, which fell from 11.3 million tons in 2000 to less than 7 million tons in 2012. This chart is based on data found in International Food Security and analysis found in International Food Security Assessment: 2014-2024.

Food grain yields key to improving food security in low-income countries

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Eighty percent or more of grain supplies are produced domestically in a majority of the 76 countries included in USDA’s annual International Food Security Assessment, making food grain production key to the assessment of food security conditions. Historically, area expansion was the main driver behind improved performance, but over the last two decades, production increases have stemmed primarily from attaining higher yields. Countries with higher yield growth have generally made steady progress toward reducing the shares of their population assessed as food-insecure. However, per hectare grain yields in a number of countries remain well below the world average and have failed to grow, resulting in relatively little progress towards reducing their food-insecure populations. In the Sub-Saharan Africa region, which generally includes most of the more vulnerable, low- and middle-income countries assessed, ERS analysis indicates that more countries are successfully adopting modern seed varieties that are contributing to improved yields. For additional analysis, see International Food Security Assessment, 2014-24.

Calorie shares of the diet in Tanzania, by region

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Food consumption patterns vary widely across different regions of Tanzania, leading to significant differences in food basket costs and impacts of changes in food prices. Understanding these consumption patterns is key to measuring access to food in developing countries and supports U.S. policies targeting global food security. ERS analyzed consumption patterns nationally and for three regions: the business capital Dar es Salaam, the Southern Highlands, and the Lake Zone in the northwestern corner of the country. On average, the Tanzanian diet relies heavily on starchy staples, with maize providing over 40 percent of household calories. But maize accounts for 51 percent of total calories in the Southern Highlands, where it’s produced in surplus, and just 32 percent of calories the deficit producing Lake Zone. In the Lake Zone, cassava is the other key staple, providing about 19 percent of total calories. Rice, beans, and cooking bananas are also important to the Tanzanian diet;in most areas, beans are the main source of protein. Total food basket costs are lowest in the Southern Highlands and highest in Dar es Salaam. This chart is based on data found in Measuring Access to Food in Tanzania: A Food Basket Approach.

Wheat prices in India tend to be less volatile than in world markets

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Wheat is the primary food staple across much of northern India. Government policy interventions have generally kept domestic prices more stable than world prices (represented by the U.S. wheat price), particularly since the 2008 global price spike. Indian policies provide growers with Minimum Support Prices (MSPs), distribute wheat procured at the MSP to consumers at subsidized prices, subsidize storage of operational and buffer stocks, and regulate imports and exports through periodic trade bans and quotas. Low domestic stocks and rising world prices led India to boost wheat MSPs and limit exports during 2007-2009 but by 2012, the accumulation of surplus stocks led to the return of private sector exports. The increase in domestic wheat prices that occurred between 2007 and 2010 was much smaller than the more than 30 percent rise in domestic rice prices. ERS research using Indian household data indicates that, compared with Indian rice consumers, wheat consumers were more able to maintain consumption of wheat and other foods during the 2007-2010 period. This is an updated version of a chart that can be found in Coping Strategies in Response to Rising Food Prices: Evidence from India.

Productivity rises in global agriculture

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

By using new technologies, farmers can produce more food using fewer economic resources at lower costs. One measure of technological change is total factor productivity (TFP). Increased TFP means that fewer economic resources (land, labor, capital and materials) are needed to produce a given amount of economic output. However, TFP does not account for the environmental impacts of agricultural production; resources that are free to the farm sector (such as water quality, greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity) are not typically included in TFP. As a result, TFP indexes may over- or under-estimate the actual resource savings from technological change. Growth in global agricultural TFP began to accelerate in the 1980s, led by large developing countries like China and Brazil. This growth helped keep food prices down even as global demand surged. This chart uses data available in International Agricultural Productivity on the ERS website, updated October 2014.

Sub-Saharan Africa remains the most food-insecure region in 2013

Monday, July 1, 2013

ERS analysis of global food insecurity covering 76 low- and middle-income countries estimates the food-insecure population at about 707 million in 2013, virtually unchanged from 704 million in 2012. The share of the population that is food insecure in these countries is expected to decrease from about 21 percent in 2012 to 20 percent in 2013. The intensity of food insecurity—as measured by the per capita distribution gap—is estimated to remain the highest in Sub-Saharan Africa and the lowest in North Africa and Asia. The assessment accounts for changes in production and import capacity that affect food availability, as well as the distribution of food across income groups. For the analysis, food insecurity is defined as daily per capita consumption below a target of 2,100 calories, and the per capita distribution gap estimates of the amount of food needed to raise consumption in each income group to the nutritional target. This chart appears in International Food Security Assessment, 2013-23, GFA-24.

Sub-Saharan African cereal yields show signs of growth

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Yields, along with crop area, determine the supply of domestically produced cereals, a crucial factor in determining food insecurity. Cereal yields recently have begun to increase in Sub-Saharan Africa, although from very low levels. The region’s yields remain less than half of average yields found in other lower income regions around the world that are included in the annual ERS International Food Security Assessment. This report uses a model that projects food availability and access in 76 lower income countries in 4 regions: Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and North Africa. Many lower income countries have been unable to increase food production at the same rate as growth in their populations, turning to imports to fill the gap. In view of recent price spikes for grains governments and international organizations alike have renewed their focus on the importance of raising yields through increased research and support for inputs. This chart appears in "Global Food Security, A Goal, A Challenge" in the February 2013 issue of ERS's Amber Waves magazine tablet version.

Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest percentage of food-insecure people

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Sub-Saharan Africa continues to be the region with the largest share of food insecure people according to estimates for 2012 based on the USDA-ERS International Food Security Assessment model. The model projects food availability and access in 76 lower income countries in 4 regions: Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and North Africa. A person is considered food insecure if estimated consumption levels are below an average 2,100 calories per capita per day. Strong economic growth in recent years has contributed to improvements in food security across the globe, but food insecurity in Sub-Saharan Africa remains at relatively high levels, followed by the Latin America and Caribbean region and Asia. Food insecurity in North Africa was estimated at below 10 percent. This chart is based on estimates in International Food Security Assessment, 2012-22 (GFA-23) and appears in the February 2013 issue of ERS's Amber Waves tablet version.

Agricultural productivity improving in Sub-Saharan Africa, but very slowly

Monday, February 25, 2013

Agricultural productivity growth is a critical factor in controlling the economic and environmental costs of feeding the world’s growing population. New ERS research finds that agricultural productivity in Sub-Saharan Africa has been growing by about one percent per year since the 1980s. A major driver has been adoption of new agricultural technologies developed through agricultural research. Investment by the CGAIR Consortium of international agricultural research centers has been particularly important, providing about $6 in productivity impacts for every $1 spent by these centers on research. However, rates of new technology adoption and agricultural productivity in Sub-Saharan Africa are still low relative to other developing countries. Resource degradation, policies that reduce economic incentives to farmers, the spread of HIV/AIDS, armed conflicts, and low national research and extension capacity have hindered agricultural productivity improvement in the region. This chart is based on the ERS report, Resources, Policies and Agricultural Productivity in Sub-Saharan Africa, ERR-145, released February 2013.

Food-insecure populations and the food distribution gap are projected to increase in Sub-Saharan Africa

Monday, October 29, 2012

In recent years, the real gross domestic product in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has grown 5 to 6 percent per year, among the highest regional growth rates in the world. In most countries in the region, even food production has grown on a per capita basis, an outcome that seemed unreachable a decade ago. However, at the aggregate level, the number of food-insecure people (those consuming less than 2,100 calories per day) in SSA is projected to rise over the next decade. The food distribution gap, which takes into account unequal purchasing power within countries by measuring the amount of food needed to raise consumption in each income decile to the nutritional target of approximately 2,100 calories per person per day, is also projected to rise. However, both of these indicators are expected to grow more slowly than the region's population, and the share of the region's population that is food insecure is projected to fall. This chart appears in "Factors Affecting Food Production Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa" in the September 2012 issue of ERS's Amber Waves magazine.

Staple foods make up a large share of calories and food expenditures for Afghan households

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Increases in the prices of staple foods can have serious effects for households living at or near subsistence levels. Over the past few years, increases in global food prices have led to an erosion of purchasing power in many devel­oping countries, where the poor often spend the majority of their budgets on food. Staple foods make up 50 percent of household food expenditures and 71 percent of daily calorie intake in Afghanistan. Wheat flour, which doubled in price between December 2007 and July 2008, is the primary staple food in Afghanistan; it alone accounts for 54 percent of daily calories per capita and 35 percent of household food expenditures. The differences in the calorie and expenditure shares reflect price differences between food groups. The cheapest foods--in terms of calories per Afghani (the local currency)--are grains and pulses. For 1 Afghani (approximately 2 cents), a household can purchase approximately 184 calories of wheat flour, 106 calories of lentils, or 78 calories of rice. In contrast, meat and vegetables are the most expensive; one Afghani purchases only 9 calories of beef or 10 calories of cucumber. These charts are found in the ERS report, International Food Security Assessment, 2012-22, GFA-23, July 2012. Additional information can also be found in "Rising Food Prices and Declining Food Security: Evidence From Afghanistan" in Amber Waves, September 2011.

Food insecurity is concentrated in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2012

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Nearly 400 million people in the 39 Sub-Saharan African countries analyzed by ERS are estimated to suffer from food insecurity in 2012. This equals 42 percent of the population of these countries. By contrast, 30 percent of the population in the 11 Latin American and Caribbean countries examined are food insecure. An estimated 18 percent of the population in the 22 Asian countries studied are food insecure. People are defined as food insecure when their estimated food availability falls below 2,100 calories per day. This map is found in the ERS report, International Food Security Assessment, 2012-22, GFA-23, July 2012.

Affluent households in India consume more calories from nonprocessed foods on average than all other households

Friday, July 20, 2012

Policymakers and researchers are increasingly concerned with assessing the worldwide food-insecure population and the ways it may be changing. A common denominator in different approaches to assessing food insecurity is the measurement of calories consumed. A recent ERS analysis focuses on India, the country with the largest food-insecure population in the world. Despite India's rapid income growth over the past two decades, current esti­mates of the number of food-insecure people derived from aggregate produc­tion, trade, and income distribution data suggest that the country accounts for nearly 40 percent of the world's food-insecure population. For nonprocessed foods, India's affluent households (with income in the top 10th percentile) purchase an average of 315 more calories than all other households and also purchase significantly more expensive calories. Regardless of income level, the majority of nonprocessed calories purchased are derived from grain products and the amount of calories from grains is nearly identical. However, more affluent house­holds purchased significantly more calories in every other food category. The data for this chart come from Estimating the Range of Food-Insecure Households in India, ERR-133, May 2012.

The depth of food insecurity is most severe in Sub-Saharan Africa among all developing regions

Monday, May 14, 2012

Despite recent gains in production, food insecurity remains most severe in Sub-Saharan Africa because of a combination of inadequate domestic production, population growth, uneven distribution of food, and weak import capacity. Although Asia, particularly India and Bangladesh, accounts for similar numbers of food insecure people as Sub-Saharan Africa, the size of distributional food gaps* (see definition in chart) are estimated to be smaller. Relatively severe food insecurity also persists in a few Central American and Caribbean countries, largely due to the skewed distribution of income, the impact of volatile weather on domestic production, and higher food prices. This map is found in the ERS report, International Food Security Assessment, 2011-21, GFA-22, July 2011.

Trends in global food aid

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Food aid continues to be an important resource to combat food insecurity in developing economies, particularly during emergency situations. The quantity of food aid, however, continues to decline. Food aid shipments averaged about 15 million tons (in grain equivalent) in the early 1990s before declining to 5.8 million tons in 2009. Despite this declining trend, targeting of food aid to needy countries appears to have improved. The clear case in point is the increase in share of global food aid to Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), the region most vulnerable to food insecurity. During 1990-94, SSA's share of total food aid was in the range of 23 to 40 percent. During 2006-09, this share increased to a range of 53 to 64 percent. In absolute terms, however, the quantity of food aid the region received declined, albeit not at as rapid a pace as the decline in global food aid-a decline of 17 percent versus 57 percent. This chart is from the ERS publication, International Food Security Assessment, 2011-21, GFA-22, July 2011.

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