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Food safety remains a significant concern in many developing countries, thanks to a prevalence of decentralized, informal food markets and low enforcement of food safety standards. Formal markets and branded food products are starting to become more common, however, allowing firms to establish themselves in consumers’ minds as providers of safe, high quality food – and potentially to charge higher prices for that food. A forthcoming article in Agricultural Economics examines this link between food safety and food prices in the context of maize flour in Kenya.
Trade restrictions such as export bans have been a popular way for governments to protect their countries’ domestic food supplies, but research suggests that such policies are largely ineffective and even detrimental. A new policy note from the Malawi Strategy Support Program examines Malawi’s use of these policies and presents alternative policies that could help better meet the country’s food security and agricultural development goals. (Also read about the use of export bans in Tanzania )
As the lean season nears an end in Southern Africa , maize supplies and prices remain mixed across the region, according to the latest FEWS Net alert. In Zambia and Tanzania, maize supplies have improved slightly due to ongoing harvests; in contrast, southern Mozambique and Zimbabwe are seeing below average maize supplies due to poor 2015-2016 production levels. Maize prices are following a similar trend, with price decreases in Zambia, northern and central Mozambique, and northern Malawi and either stable or abnormally increasing prices in southern Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
Since 2015, Ethiopia has been hard hit by droughts triggered by El Niño. These droughts have reduced agricultural output and livestock production throughout the country and have driven large numbers into food insecurity. The Government of Ethiopia estimates that 10.2 million people will need emergency food aid in 2016, in addition to the 7.9 million people already covered by the country’s Productive Safety Net Programme.
FAO’s Global Information and Early Warning Systems (GIEWS) has released several new country briefs for Africa south of the Sahara. This series of briefs provides an overview of the food security situation in monitored countries, focusing on the current agricultural season, harvests prospects for staple food crops and livestock, estimates and forecasts of cereal production, and food price and food policy trends.