Managing Food Security Implications of Food Price Shocks in Africa
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Until the food price alarm went off, discussions on how to reduce hunger and malnutrition in Africa took place in an environment of declining food prices with estimates indicating that real food prices declined by about 75% between 1974 and 2005. However, since 2006, real food prices have been on the rise and although prices started to decline after mid-2008, they largely remained above their long-term trends. This paper provides a contextual overview of how African countries responded to the economic and welfare impacts of the food price crisis of 2006-08. The responses to the food crisis have been as varied as the African economies are diverse. In the short and medium terms, the policy options preferred by both governments and their development partners focused predominantly on social safety nets aimed at cushioning vulnerable communities and urban consumers from food inflation. The paper provides a critique of these responses and lays out broad outlines for what must be done in order for African agricultural sectors to be provided with the right investments and incentives to produce sufficient food and lay the basis for broad-based and sustainable economic growth.