599 research outputs found

    Halving hunger: Meeting the first millennium development goal

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    "In 2000, the world’s leaders set a target of halving the percentage of hungry people between 1990 and 2015. This rather modest target constitutes part of the first Millennium Development Goal, which also calls for halving the proportion of people living in poverty and achieving full employment. However, the effort to meet the hunger target has swerved off track, and the world is getting farther and farther away from realizing this objective. The goal of halving hunger by 2015 can still be achieved, but business as usual will not be enough. What is needed is “business as unusual”—a smarter, more innovative, better focused, and cost-effective approach to reducing hunger. The five elements of this new approach are as follows: Invest in Two Core Pillars: Agriculture and Social Protection The first step in reducing poverty and hunger in developing countries is to invest in agriculture and rural development. Most of the world’s poor and hungry people live in rural areas in Africa and Asia and depend on agriculture for their livelihoods, but many developing countries continue to underinvest in agriculture. Research in Africa and Asia has shown that investments in agricultural research and extension have large impacts on agricultural productivity and poverty, and investments in rural infrastructure can bring even greater benefits. Scaled-up investments in social protection that focus on nutrition and health are also crucial for improving the lives of the poorest of the poor. Although policymakers increasingly see the importance of social protection spending, there are still few productive safety net programs that are well targeted to the poorest and hungry households and increase production capacity. Bring in New Players New actors in global development—the private sector, philanthropic organizations, and emerging economy donors—have important roles to play in reducing hunger in developing countries. But the opportunities presented by these development partners have not been fully harnessed. Given the right incentives, the private sector, for example, can provide effective and sustainable investment and innovation to help in the fight against hunger. In many countries, however, private companies face a lack of incentives and a poor business operating environment, including poor property rights. Emerging economy donors are now playing an increasing role in providing development assistance, but have not yet been fully integrated into the global food security agenda. Adopt a Country-Led, Bottom-Up Approach Effective, efficient, and sustainable policies that are well adapted to the local context can help countries maximize the local impact of the global agenda and tap external development assistance, which increasingly requires approaches that are country led. Successful reforms will be not only country driven, but also local in nature, with poor people acting as a driving force in the development process. At the same time, some issues—like climate change, trade, and control of disease—must be addressed at the global level. The task for individual countries is then to digest and integrate these global issues in developing their own strategies at the country level. Design Policies Using Evidence and Experiments Pilot projects and policy experiments have the potential to improve policymaking by giving decisionmakers information about what works before policies are implemented across the board. Experimentation can improve the success rate of reforms as successful pilot projects are scaled up and unsuccessful policy options are eliminated. To succeed with this approach, policymakers need to allow impartial monitoring of experiments and rapidly transform the lessons learned into large-scale reforms. These changes can create an environment in which policies are continually tried, tested, adjusted, and tried again before being scaled up. Walk the Walk Decisionmakers at the global, regional, and national levels have made commitments to policies and investments for enhancing food security, but they have often failed to meet those commitments. For example, in 2003, African heads of state pledged that their governments would allocate 10 percent of national public budgets to the agricultural sector by 2008, but data for 2007 show that only a handful of countries had met the 10 percent target. These financial commitments must be supported with strong institutions and governance at the global, regional, and national levels and monitored in a timely and transparent fashion. Scaling Up “Business as Unusual” Some aspects of this “business as unusual” approach have already been successful in a few countries, but they need to be scaled up and extended to new countries to have a real impact on the reduction of global hunger. On a larger scale, the global food governance system itself needs to be reformed to work better. Reforms should include (1) improving existing institutions and creating an umbrella structure for food and agriculture; (2) forming government-to-government systems for decisionmaking on agriculture, food, and nutrition; and (3) explicitly engaging the new players in the global food system—the private sector and civil society—together with national governments in new or reorganized international organizations and agreements. A combination of all three options, with a leading role for emerging economies, is required. Finally, though global and national actors have distinct roles to play, it is important that they work together, combining their efforts to fight poverty and hunger. A stronger system of mutual accountability between the two groups would help keep progress on track." from TextAgricultural development -- Developing countries, Developing countries -- Economic policy, Hunger -- Developing countries, Millennium Development Goals (MDG), Policies, Poverty -- Developing countries, Rural development -- Developing countries, Social protection,

    Technological change, technical and allocative efficiency in Chinese agriculture: the case of rice production in Jiangsu

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    This paper develops a frontier shadow cost function approach to estimate empirically the effects of technological change, technical and allocative efficiency improvement in Chinese agriculture during the reform period (1980-93). The results reveal that the first phase rural reforms (1979-84) which focused on the decentralization of the production system have had significant impact on technical efficiency but not allocative efficiency. During the second phase reforms which was supposed to focus on the liberalization of rural markets, technical efficiency improved very little and allocative efficiency has increased only slightly, however. In contrast, the rate of technological change continued to increase, although at a declining rate during the second phase reform.Rice production., Technological innovations China.,

    Agricultural research and urban poverty in India:

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    Using a similar analytical approach to a study in China, this paper analyzes the impact of agricultural research on urban poverty reduction in India. State level data from 1970 to 1995 were used in the empirical analysis. It is found that in addition to its large impact on rural poverty reduction, agricultural research investments have also played a major role in the reduction of urban poverty. Agricultural research investments increase agricultural production, and increased production in turn lowers food prices. The urban poor often benefit proportionately more than the non-poor since they spend 50-80% of their income on food. Among all the rural investments considered in this study, agricultural research has the largest impact on urban poverty reduction per additional unit of investment. The results from this study are similar to earlier findings for China. Today, urban poverty still accounts for one quarter of total poverty in India, and this share is expected to rise in the future. Policymakers cannot afford to be complacent about this trend and continued investments are still needed to keep food prices low. Among all government policy instruments, increased agricultural research is still the most effective way to achieve this objective.Urban poor., Poverty alleviation South Asia., Investments India., Government spending policy., Agricultural research India.,

    How fast have China's agricultural production and productivity really been growing?: new measurement and evidence

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    Output in Chinese agriculture has grown rapidly for the last several decades, as reported by the Statistical System in China. However, reported total output is aggregated using constant prices, which has been proven to be inappropriate by many economists. As a result, growth rates of output reported by the government may be biased. This bias can be large, particularly at a time when relative prices of agricultural products were changed substantially as part of the policy reforms during the 1980s and 1990s. A similar problem exists in the aggregation of total input. Consequently, estimates of total factor productivity, an index of output minus input, can also be biased. This study uses a more appropriate approach to measure growth in output, input and total factor productivity for Chinese agriculture. Using newly estimated production and productivity growth indexes, the impact of rural reforms are reassessed. The conventional approach overestimates the impact of the rural reforms on both production and productivity growth. Nevertheless, both production and productivity still grew at respectable rates during the reform period.China., Agricultural productivity China., Agricultural growth.,

    Estimating crop-specific production technologies in Chinese agriculture: a generalized maximum entropy approach

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    A Generalized Maximum Entropy (GME) approach is adapted to empirically estimate crop-specific production technologies in Chinese agriculture. Despite a modest behavior assumption about equal marginal returns of non-land inputs among crops, this method does not require price information, which is usually distorted in a centrally planned economy such as China. Multi-output technologies for seven regions over more than two decades are estimated, and input allocations for each province are recovered simultaneously. The estimated multi-output production technology and input allocations imply that China may have greater grain production potentials than previously thought.Technology., Crops China.,

    Public spending in developing countries: trends, determination, and impact

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    The objective of this paper is to review trends in government expenditures in the developing world, to analyze the causes of change, and to develop an analytical framework for determining the differential impacts of various government expenditures on economic growth. Contrary to common belief, it is found that structural adjustment programs increased the size of government spending, but not all sectors received equal treatment. As a share of total government spending, expenditures on agriculture, education, and infrastructure in Africa; on agricultural and health in Asia; and on education and infrastructure in Latin America, all declined as a result of the structural adjustment programs. The impact of various types of government spending on economic growth is mixed. In Africa, government spending on agriculture and health was particularly strong in promoting economic growth. Asia's investments in agriculture, education, and defense had positive growth-promoting effects. However, all types of government spending except health were statistically insignificant in Latin America. Structural adjustment programs promoted growth in Asia and Latin America, but not in Africa. Growth in agricultural production is most crucial for poverty alleviation in rural areas. Agricultural spending, irrigation, education, and roads all contributed strongly to this growth. Disaggregating total agricultural expenditures into research and non-research spending reveals that research had a much larger impact on productivity than non-research spending.Poverty alleviation, Government spending policy, Structural adjustment (Economic policy),

    INFRASTRUCTURE, OPENNESS, AND REGIONAL INEQUALITY IN INDIA

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    This paper aims to quantify the driving forces behind the observed divergence of Indian economy. The results show that in a closed economy with agriculture as the predominant mode of production, the comparative advantage is mainly determined by the difference in land quality and climate across regions within a country. However, when the economy opens its door to the rest of the world, a region's comparative advantage is evaluated in a broader global context. Therefore, regions adjacent to more developed economies, or with better infrastructure such as ports and airports, enjoy a far better location advantage for trade and development than landlocked regions. More investment in physical infrastructure such as roads will bring the interior regions closer to the world markets and reduce regional disparity. Among all the factors considered, education is the only equalizing factor to regional development.Community/Rural/Urban Development,

    Anatomy of a crisis: The causes and consequences of surging food prices

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    "Although the potential causes and consequences of recent increases in international food prices have attracted widespread attention, many existing appraisals are superficial and/or piecemeal. This paper attempts to provide a more comprehensive review of these issues based on the best and most recent research, and includes fresh theoretical and empirical analysis. We first analyze the causes of the current crisis by considering how well standard explanations hold up against relevant economic theory and important stylized facts. Some explanations, especially rising oil prices, the depreciation of the US dollar, biofuel demand, and some commodity-specific explanations, hold up much better than some others. We then provide an appraisal of the likely macro- and microeconomic impacts of the crisis in developing countries. We observe a large gap in the effects of macro and micro factors, and note that when these factors are used to identify the most vulnerable countries, the results often point in different directions. We conclude with a brief discussion of what ought to be learned from this crisis." from authors' abstractFood prices, global food crisis, oil prices, Biofuels, poverty impacts, macroeconomic impacts,

    Reflections on the global food crisis: How did it happen? How has it hurt? And how can we prevent the next one?

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    Cheap food has been taken for granted for almost 30 years. From their peak in the 1970s crisis, real food prices steadily declined in the 1980s and 1990s and eventually reached an all-time low in the early 2000s. Rich and poor governments alike therefore saw little need to invest in agricultural production, and reliance on food imports appeared to be a relatively safe and efficient means of achieving national food security. However, as the international prices of major food cereals surged upward from 2006 to 2008 these perceptions quickly collapsed. Furthermore, although food prices are now lower than their 2008 peak, real prices have remained significantly higher in 2009 and 2010 than they were prior to the crisis, and various simulation models predict that real food prices will remain high until at least the end of the next decade.food crisis, Food supply, food security, Food prices,
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