Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Alternate estimates of the hungry

While Easterly expresses his concerns over the FAO's pronouncements on the number of hungry people in the world, Gallup polling broadly supports the FAO's estimates. Telephone interviews asked 1,000 or more households in 113 countries if they had had difficulty purchasing food in 2009. In the median country, 26% of respondents answered in the affirmative. Gallup does the math and estimates approximately 1 billion people suffered from food insecurity at some point in 2008/2009. They also report the change in a number of high-hunger countries (right). The largest improvements have been in Uganda, Burundi, and Zimbabwe; the worst changes in Ecuador, the Philippines, and Cameroon.

In other hunger news, Nucifora at the World Bank shows that while Mozambique's reinstated food subsidies may quell the food riots there, most of the benefits are being captured by the wealthiest quintile. Apparently, monetary policy has had a huge effect here as well, with food prices following appreciations and depreciations in the last few years.

An FAO subcommittee has released a new aquaculture certification program:

If the guidelines are followed in full by countries, certification will enable consumers standing at the fish counter to know whether the shrimp they are considering buying were raised without damaging a coastal mangrove swamp, whether the fish farm worker was paid a fair wage, and whether the shell fish is free of contamination. ...
Eighty percent of fish farmers are small-scale, often with a backyard pond for fish or a shrimp pond along the coast. One thorny issue that had to be resolved was how a costly certification process could be engineered so as not to shut small-scale producers out of the market.

The guidelines call on governments to support capacity building of fish producers for developing and complying with aquaculture certification systems. "There are ways for small producers to operate within a modern certification system. For example, in India and Thailand clusters of fish farmers share the costs of certification so they are not too heavy for each farmer," Subasinghe said.

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