International grain reserves and other instruments to address volatility in grain markets





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The dramatic rise in global food prices in 2007/08 was widely viewed as a threat to global food and nutrition security that endangered millions of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable. It has also brought political instability to some countries and the prospect of unrest to many more. The rapid increase in world food prices was caused by a combination of cumulative effects of long-term trends, more recent supply and demand dynamics, and (governmental) responses that have exacerbated price volatility. This crisis has exposed existing and potential weaknesses and vulnerabilities of households, governments, and the international system to food and nutrition insecurity. The international community has responded with a range of initiatives and established instruments to assist the neediest nations. Major stakeholders worldwide continue to discuss potential instruments to address the recent food crisis and to prevent or reduce the impact of future crises. Besides agricultural productivity improvement and national food self-sufficiency targets, physical grain stocks (“humanitarian food reserves”) have resurfaced in these discussions. And more recently, the idea of “a ‘virtual’ internationally coordinated reserve system for humanitarian purposes”—first mentioned in the G8 Leaders’ Statement on Global Food Security at the Hokkaido Toyako Summit on July 8, 2008—was added to the debate. In conjunction with the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, the Russian Federation will host, on June 6 and 7, 2009, the World Grain Forum 2009. During the Forum, which intends to shape a common vision of issues facing global food (grain) security and to inform future G8/G20 meetings, high-level discussions are expected to cover—inter alia—global grain production and marketing, food aid programs, new challenges of world trade in grain, and mechanisms for the stabilization of grain markets including an international grain reserve.In view of the controversies surrounding the topic of grain stocks and other instruments to reduce price volatility in (food) commodity markets, and at the request of the Organizing Committee of the World Grain Forum 2009, The World Bank (WB), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) (the three sponsoring organizations) have commissioned the present working paper on international grain reserves and other instruments to address volatility in grain markets. The purpose of this paper is to inform international debates on the occasion of the World Grain Forum 2009 on issues and options related to price volatility in (food) commodity markets with special reference to international grain reserves.

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FAO Investment Centre Studies and Reports


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О мировых зерновых запасах и других инструментах решения проблемы нестабильности зерновых рынков