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Poverty

The Global Food Crisis: Will Investments in Agricultural Technology be enough?

Forhad Shilpi's picture

Contributed by Forhad Shilpi and Uwe Deichmann

Will investments in agricultural technology by themselves be sufficient to ensure long-term productivity growth in the farm sector and, more importantly, for rural poverty reduction?  As rapidly rising food prices threaten food security and the poverty gains made by developing countries, many have blamed declining funding for agricultural technology development for this state of affairs (for example, the New York Times).

This question is highly relevant for South Asia.  Shanta Devarajan has commented on the recent rice export ban by India and its implication for its neighbor, Bangladesh, which has become a net rice importer this year due to floods and cyclone impacts.  But Bangladesh also provides evidence that agricultural technology by itself is unlikely to lead to adequate growth in agricultural output if factors such as physical and economic geography and infrastructure needs are not considered.

In a recent study, we examine these issues for Bangladesh. During the early 1990s, Bangladesh experienced widespread diffusion of green revolution technology in rice, its main crop. As a result, rice production has more than doubled since the early 1970s. The spread of green revolution technology is usually expected to boost wages for farm workers.  But we found regional differences in rural wages that run counter to the traditional argument.

Rising food prices and East Asia: trends and options

Milan Brahmbhatt's picture

Soaring food prices have suddenly become a major concern for policy makers in East Asia.  The price of rice - which provides one third of the region's caloric intake - is a particular worry.  Rice prices have been moving higher since around 2004, although this was from very depressed levels in the early years of the decade.  Prices surpassed $300 a ton in early 2006 for the first time since the late 1990s, kept moving higher, and then took off at an accelerating pace from late 2007:  up 11 percent in the the fourth quarter, then 56 percent in the first quarter of 2008 an

NT2: Not a World Bank hydropower project

William Rex's picture

A few weeks ago I wrote that “many perceive NT2 to be a World Bank hydropower project. From my perspective, that’s inaccurate in every respect. More on that in a future posting.” Following intense pressure from my reading public (thanks, Nanda), it’s time to explain what I meant.

For the record: The Bank is *not* warning about Thailand's rice export risks

Jim Adams's picture

I see there has been some blog chatter about the World Bank's position on Thailand's rice exports. Let me take the chance here to set the record straight: Thailand is a great international trading partner, it's commited to maintaining its rice exports, and we support this action. This is very important at this time of food price hikes and it's the responsible thing to do.

On the Air, Feet on the Ground: Democracy, Development, and FM Radio in Niger

Antonio Lambino's picture

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a viewing and panel discussion of a documentary film entitled Magic Radio: The FM Revolution in Niger at the World Bank headquarters in Washington, D.C.  Mainly about the contribution of private FM radio toward enhancing grassroots democracy, the film also illustrates radio’s efficac

Beggar thine own people?

Shanta Devarajan's picture

First the good news. The Indian government has agreed to sell the originally-agreed 400,000 tons of non-basmati rice to the Government of Bangladesh at a price of $430 per ton. On March 30th, the Government of Bangladesh’s Purchase Committee approved the Indian offer of procuring the 400,000 tons of rice at $430 per ton by ship.


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