Given the current situation in commodity markets (with a major drought in the United States that has significantly diminished production estimates for corn and soy), the Director General of the FAO, José Graziano da Silva, said in an interview with the French newspaper "Le Monde" that it is vital that countries do not take unilateral decisions without coordination because during the last food crisis of 2007-2008, the "panic buying" by some countries and the imposition of export restrictions worsened the situation.
According to Da Silva, the establishment of the agricultural market information system (AMIS), created by the G-20 after the last food crisis, responsible for improving information and market transparency and promoting coordination of policy responses makes us better prepared for the current situation. AMIS consists of G20 countries and other major countries exporting or importing food and represents the bulk of world trade in corn, wheat, soybeans and rice. The decision whether to convene a quick response forum in the coming weeks will be decided on the basis of AMIS.
Other strategic options are better regulated financial markets which can also help combat excessive volatility, which in turn helps strengthen fluctuations. The temporary suspension or revision of mandates for biofuel production, currently in place in many countries, is also an option to consider.
As far as poor, developing countries, these are now better prepared to cope with price volatility, having launched social protection programs to help poor families so they can maintain their level of food consumption. Increasing the productivity of their own agricultural sectors is another way to improve their resilience to crises of food prices.
Thursday August 27, 2012/ Le Monde/ France.