When the World Bank’s Food Price Watch reported last week that severe drought pushed prices of staples such as maize and soybean to an all-time high this summer, people everywhere took notice. What will it mean for the poor in regions most affected by rising prices? What will it mean for us?
Economist José Cuesta, who authors the Bank’s quarterly Food Price Watch, asked readers of our last blog entry to submit their own questions about food prices. Here are his answers to a few of them.
“In June this year Apple CEO Tim Cook shared with the waiting crowd at its Worldwide Development Conference that Apple would be giving access to the App Store to 32 new countries, bringing the total to 152. Tim Cook also shared some impressive statistics: the App Store now has 400 million accounts; there are 650,000 apps available for download; there have been 30 billion app downloads and more than $5 billion (£3.2 billion) has been paid to developers.
Of those 32 new countries there are a number in Africa, ranging from countries like Chad with millions of potential app users to remote São Tomé and Príncipe, with just thousands.” READ MORE
Never mind that it is drizzling throughout the opening ceremony, forcing many people under a undulating roof of red, green, blue, and pink umbrellas. The re-opening of Cote d’Ivoire’s leading university here in Abidjan’s Cocody district, after its closure two years ago because of the long political crisis which culminated in the disputed results of the 2010 presidential election, isn’t going to be deterred by the last fading days of the rainy season. Academics in their green robes sit good naturedly under tents. Student reps wait nervously by the entranceway for Cote d’Ivoire’s President Ouattara to arrive. The music is loud and exuberant. The place is humming with expectation and excitement. It’s a new start for higher education.
The government has been planning for this moment for the last eight months, hiring legions of workmen, builders, and gardeners to refurbish the old University of Cocody, one of Africa’s longest-running and best-known tertiary institutes which opened before the country won its independence in 1960.
Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is home to the world’s poorest countries. The region’s geographical disadvantages are often viewed as an important deterrent to its economic development. A country’s geography directly affects economic development through its effect on disease burden, agricultural productivity or the availability of natural resources. However, the new economic geography (NEG) literature, initiated by Krugman (1991), highlights another mechanism through which geography affects prosperity.
“At least 70 journalists and support staff were killed while on assignment in the first half of this year, making it one of the bloodiest periods of recent times.
Fifteen were confirmed dead in Syria alone between January and June, according to the biannual Killing The Messenger survey of news media casualties produced for the International News Safety Institute (INSI) by the Cardiff school of journalism.
The next worst countries were Nigeria, where seven unidentified newspaper staff were killed by a bomb, Brazil, Somalia, Indonesia, where five journalists died in a plane crash, and Mexico.” READ MORE
Political intervention in credit markets, often with telling consequences, seems to be ubiquitous, regardless of the stage of development of the financial system. It has been well documented that in emerging markets, cozy ties between banks and politicians, as well as state ownership of banks, give rise to a great deal of political influence in credit extension and capital allocation. The recent financial crises in U.S. and the Eurozone have demonstrated that even advanced financial systems are not immune to political intervention.
How much is a jar of jam worth? A couple of pesos, at most. But for a group of women from a remote Guatemalan village, it’s worth its weight in gold. It has helped them develop as individuals and has made a significant contribution to their income and that of their community.
With a sweet voice that cracks with emotion, Blanca Estela, a single mother of four, tells us that making jam marked a turning point in her life. She is one of 30 women from Nueva Esperanza, a company that makes jams and sauces in San Lucas Tolimán, Guatemala. The company has helped the women become independent in a society that continues to be patriarchal. It has also promoted local economic growth.
When I visited the women to make this video, they told me that the Rural Economic Development Program supported by the World Bank enabled them to open new markets and increase their earnings. “This is the dream of a lifetime. We’ve been able to develop as individuals and as businesswomen,” says Esperanza. It has turned these rural homemakers into businesswomen. They now serve as an example for the rest of the women and men in the village.
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Drought, food prices, and global warming remain hot topics as crops in the United States wilt under the hot sun, raising fears of another food price crisis. The Guardian chronicles the corn belt’s adverse conditions – and the implications for the rest of the world in “America’s Corn Farmers High and Dry as Hope Withers With Their Harvest.” (For a view from South Africa on the drought’s ripple effect, see Independent Online’s “US drought puts pressure on SA food prices”.) On another food supply issue, Co.exist highlights a new study on the costs and benefits of rebuilding global fisheries in “More Fish Means More Money.” The bottom line: rebuilding fisheries would begin to pay off in 12 years, the study says. The New York Times blog India Ink relates an effort to address another huge challenge—access to sanitation—in “Mapping Toilets in a Mumbai Slum Yields Unexpected Results.” Bloomberg looks at the coming demographic dividend in Southeast Asia, where young workers are expected to gain jobs as workforces age in Japan, Korea and China.