Thursday, January 3, 2008

Report On Net Food Importing Countries That Is Far More Interesting Than It Sounds (World Bank)

The World Bank has just published a report titled, "Who Are The Net Food Importing Countries?" that is far more interesting than it sounds. This report (download full text here) has surprising implications for national security and intelligence analysis (particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa). The report is also packed full with data making it something you would probably want to file away for that day when someone asks you "What are the net non-oil imports into Burkina Faso?" Check out these highlights from the conclusion (Boldface and hyperlinks are mine):

  • "This paper shows that while it is true that most low-income countries are net food importers, their imports are negligible, and they have a large trade surplus in other agricultural commodities which can be easily substituted for foods if relative prices change significantly."
  • "Part of the reason for this small food trade deficit is the oil exporters and countries in conflict which have large raw food deficits. If these are excluded, then even low income countries have a surplus in food trade."
  • "While a large number of low-income countries are net food importers, majority of them are net agricultural exporters, and their agricultural trade surplus is almost 5 percent of their imports. If the oil and conflict countries are excluded, the trade surplus increases to 6 percent of imports."
  • "Being a net food importer and an agricultural exporter is especially pronounced in low income SSA."
  • "There are only 3 vulnerable low-income countries, i.e., countries whose net narrow food trade deficit is more than 10 percent of their imports, excluding oil exporters and conflict countries. Of these 3, Benin and Guinea-Bissau export cotton and nuts, respectively, and Senegal exports peanut oil which is not included in our measures."
  • "Low-income countries, excluding the ones in conflict and oil exporters, have moved from a deficit of 1 percent of their imports in 1980/81 for raw food trade, to a surplus of about 1 percent of the imports in 2004/05. SSA countries have not experienced the same transformation."
  • "These results suggest that the almost automatic reaction, that food price increases are bad for low-income countries, needs to be qualified."
  • "On the other hand, there are a group of countries that are experiencing civil conflicts and are large importers of food, and can not easily adjust their production and meet their basic needs. They also need special assistance in the distribution of food within their boundaries."

1 comment:

Colts Neck Solutions1 said...

The very serious implication is that any "land reform" or other effort to improve farming income or peasants' income is doomed to failure, because agriculture is already an overcrowded business, with diminishing need for labor. There is a somewhat naive fondness for agriculturally-oriented aid (including DEA efforts to divert growers of opium into growing commercial crops), but the peasants headed for the big cities know better that agriculture cannot support them.