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Incorporating global food price spikes into the risk management agenda

Research reports

Written by Sharada Keats, Ed Clay

This study has been undertaken as part of the ODI project, High World Food Prices which is funded by DFID. In reviewing specific ways in which international action by the UK government can assist in preparations against future shocks in basic (cereal) prices, the ODI programme specifically recommended: ―work to incorporate food price shocks into Disaster Risk Reduction Strategies (Wiggins et al, 2010b p.2).

This challenge is taken up here in an exploratory study which has been prepared during a fresh period of historically high and volatile global food prices beginning in mid 2010 that has underlined the uncertainty surrounding food prices. There is no agreement on whether we are currently still in a transitory and infrequently occurring episode of extreme volatility or have entered a new era not just of rising prices but instability.

The paper sets out an approach to considering risks in such conditions of uncertainty which could be adopted in assessing risks and determining appropriate policy responses at a country level, especially in a low-income country. The approach proposed is both open and eclectic – let‘s not be dogmatic or doctrinaire, but begin by making a provisional context specific assessment on the basis of the quantitative and qualitative evidence available and that considers all the policy options.

Ed Clay, Sharada Keats and Piet Lanser