Agricultural Development Economics


The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2009
Economic crises – impacts and lessons learned
Publication date
The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2009 presents the latest statistics on global undernourishment and concludes that structural problems of underinvestment have impeded progress toward the World Food Summit goal and the first Millennium Development Goal hunger reduction target. This disappointing state of affairs has been exacerbated by first the food crisis and now the global economic crisis that, together, have increased the number of undernourished people in the world to more than one billion for the first time since 1970. The report describes the transmission channels through which the economic crisis has affected developing countries and presents a series of country case studies that show how the poor are struggling to cope with a severe shock that is not of their own making. This crisis is different from the crises developing countries have experienced in the past, because it is affecting the entire world simultaneously, because it comes on top of a food crisis that has already strained the coping mechanisms of the poor, and because developing countries today are more integrated into the global economy than in past decades. In the context of the enormous financial pressures faced by governments, the twin-track approach remains an effective way to address growing levels of hunger in the world. Stepping up investment in the agriculture sector, especially for public goods, will be critical if hunger is to be eradicated. In addition, safety nets designed to protect the most poor and food-insecure are an essential complement to such investment because the poorest should be given the opportunity to feed themselves now, even if the full impact of longer-term investment has not yet been realized.