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Are Super Farms the Solution to the World’s Food Insecurity Challenge? Ten Questions You Need to Ask Yourself

José Cuesta's picture

Join me in a Twitter Chat on why global food prices remain high on Dec. 4 at 10 a.m. ET/15:00 GMT. I'll be tweeting from @worldbanklive with hashtag #foodpriceschat. Ask questions beforehand with hashtag #foodpriceschat. Looking forward to seeing you on Twitter.


Agriculture workers on a strawberry farm in Argentina. © Nahuel Berger/World Bank

Today there are 842 million who are hungry. As the global population approaches 9 billion by 2050, demand for food will keep increasing, requiring sustained improvement in agricultural productivity. Where will these productivity increases come from? For decades, small-scale family farming was widely thought to be more productive and more efficient in reducing poverty than large-scale farming. But now advocates of large-scale agriculture point to its advantages in leveraging huge investments and innovative technologies as well as its enormous export potential. Critics, however, highlight serious environmental, animal welfare, social and economic concerns, especially in the context of fragile institutions. The often outrageous conditions and devastating social impacts that “land grabs” bring about are well known, particularly in severely food-insecure countries.

So, is large-scale farming—particularly the popularly known “super farms”—the solution to food demand challenges? Or is it an obstacle? Here are the 10 key questions you need to ask yourself to better understand this issue. I have tried to address them in the latest issue of Food Price Watch.

What’s a Group of Indigenous Peoples Doing in a Baroque Castle in Germany?

Kennan Rapp's picture

 Shutterstock

It is not often that you find Indigenous Peoples from around the world meeting in one of the most important baroque castles of Germany. Perched on a cliff, with a natural moat created by the river Lahn, the castle of Weilburg allows a bird’s eye view of the surrounding forest landscape.

These forests were not always lush and thriving. Centuries before, the construction of the castle led to massive logging in the adjacent forests and finally the ruling aristocrat ordered restricted use of timber for construction and introduced a new building code. As a result, Weilburg became the national center of a novel construction technique using clay and straw, which is now seen in towns across Germany.

Coincidently, a new approach to tackling deforestation is also what 80 Indigenous Peoples’ leaders, government representatives, civil society practitioners and international experts from 24 countries discussed this week at a three day workshop in Weilburg’s castle.

The central challenge was to identify practical approaches to ensure the full and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples in REDD+, a performance-based mechanism for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. The meeting was jointly organized by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) and the UN-REDD Programme.

Three Types of Climate Action for Europe and Central Asia Region

Uwe Deichmann's picture

An array of energy efficient light bulbs.
Under current trajectories, the world is headed toward a world that will be 4 degrees warmer by the end of this century. Despite the mounting concern around this scenario, many countries throughout the Europe and Central Asia (ECA) region are understandably reluctant to introduce more ambitious climate policies because they are worried about the negative consequences on competitiveness or energy affordability, for instance.

However, as we try to show in our recent publication, Growing Green: the Economic Benefits of Climate Action, strategic investment in climate action can benefit these countries in the medium- and long-terms – thus offsetting the negative consequences of these investments.

Above all, countries need to focus on three types of climate action: climate action as a co-benefit, climate action as an investment, and climate action as insurance.

Inside the G8: Why the Meeting Was Critical in the Effort to End Poverty

Jim Yong Kim's picture

LONDON -- I'm just back from the G8 meeting in Northern Ireland, and under the leadership of Prime Minister David Cameron, we focused on some critical but often overlooked elements on how the world can end extreme poverty in a generation: taxes, trade, and transparency. Watch the video to see why I feel so strongly about this.


 

A ladder, wood theft, and sustainability

Klas Sander's picture

Photo Credit: Klas Sander

Spring has arrived. Despite a late start, this winter lasted longer than usual in many countries, especially in various parts of Europe. And this year again, the melting snows reveal a trend that has been observed over the past several years: households are increasingly using wood to heat their homes. No, this time we are not talking about World Bank client countries where wood is known to account for large shares of energy consumption.

Prospects Daily: Spanish and Italian bonds advance…Investor confidence in Germany rises strongly..

Global Macroeconomics Team's picture

Financial Markets…Spanish and Italian government bonds bounced back from their earlier losses, with their benchmark 10-year yields dropping 6 basis points to 5.17% and 4 bps to 4.36%, as a report showed German investor confidence surged to the highest level in nearly three years this month, boosting risk-appetite for the region’s high-yielding debt. Notably, Spain sold €4 billion ($5.35 billion) of 3- and 9-month bills with an average yield of 0.421%, down from 0.441% in January auction.

Prospects Daily: Euro Area services PMI rises; Brazil’s industrial production slows; Philippines’ 2012 inflation improved

Global Macroeconomics Team's picture

Financial Markets…The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index added 0.1% in Friday morning trade and the dollar weakened 0.2% versus the euro after a U.S. Labor Department report showed a slightly slower than expected employment growth in December. The S&P500 has advanced 4.1% this week, gearing for its largest weekly gain in 13 months.

Prospects Daily: US consumer confidence falls; inflation moderated in Chile, Peru and Mexico but rose slightly in Brazil

Global Macroeconomics Team's picture


Financial Markets…U.S. Treasuries slid for the first time in four days, with the benchmark note yields 3 basis points to 1.62%, as a government report showed U.S. employers added more than forecasted jobs in November. U.S government bonds have advanced 2.8% this year as of yesterday, after gaining 9.8% in 2011 and 5.9% in 2010.

Prospects Daily: Japan’s GDP contracts at annualized 3.5% (q/q) in third quarter

Global Macroeconomics Team's picture

Financial Markets…Global stock markets fluctuated between gains and losses, following three consecutive days of losses last week, as strong Chinese exports data in October offset worries over a prospect of the so-called U.S. fiscal cliff and Greek woes. The benchmark MSCI global equity index just slipped 0.04% in afternoon trading.

Prospects Daily: Year-to-date global corporate bond sales rose to $3.43 trillion

Global Macroeconomics Team's picture

Financial Markets…Year-to-date global corporate bond sales rose to $3.43 trillion, already surpassing 2011’s full year total of $3.29 trillion, as further stimulus from global central banks pushed yields to record lows. Funding costs for the riskiest to the most creditworthy corporates are plunging as the persistent low-yield environment spurred unprecedented investor demand.


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