International prices of most staple food commodities in 2008 reached a remarkable level that had not been seen since late 1970’s. Food commodity prices are projected to remain on higher levels over the next decade, supported by firm demand, unfavorable weather conditions, slowing growth in global production, expected high price of crude oil. This perspective poses not only challenges to global food insecurity but also offers opportunities for food and agricultural producers arising from the higher average prices projected for the coming decade. This paper attempted to investigate the impact of future global food price increase on 28 Africa least developed countries (LDCs) and to propose some policy instruments for tackling the impact of high food prices. Unlike most conventional studies on agricultural impact of trade, we chose in this study the Common Agricultural Policy Regionalized Impact (CAPRI in abbreviation, see Britz & Witzke, 2012) modeling system as the analytical tool. The market module of CAPRI is a multi-regional partial equilibrium model for agricultural products that covers 47 primary and secondary agricultural products produced in 77 countries of 40 trade blocks in the world, among which 28 individual African countries are accounted for, and the remaining African countries being aggregated into four trade blocks—namely, Africa-Rest, Nigeria, Ethiopia and South Africa. This study is, to our knowledge, thus far the very first application of the CAPRI modeling system to assess price surge and policy impact on African LDCs. Based on the parameters as estimated by Haniotis and Baffes (2010), we translated the projected oil price increase in the medium run (5 to 10 years) into agricultural commodity price changes in the global market. Oil price rise affects agricultural product prices in both production and demand sides. Energy is needed for fertilizer production and thus higher energy prices would push up fertilizer production costs. This would in turn lead to increases in agricultural production costs. On the demand side, as the price of crude oil increases, some crops are used as inputs for producing biofuel so as to substitute for crude oil, and thus push up the demand for grains (Mueller, Anderson and Wallington, 2011). Our simulation results indicate that African LDCs are adversely affected in terms of overall welfare when prices of maize, rice and wheat increase. The reduction in consumer surplus, agricultural income and tariff revenues are the key factors for the reduced overall welfare. The sectoral impact analysis reveals that total demand for wheat and rice, including both human consumption and imports, would drop as a result of substitution effect, yet maize demand could increases. In addition, African LDCs are projected to be more negatively affected than the other trade blocks such as Africa-Rest, Nigeria, South-Africa and Ethiopia. Important policy implications follow our findings. Regarding the adverse effects that international food price spike may have on the welfare of African LDCs, governments could invest to develop the wheat, rice and maize sectors in order to reduce the countries’ vulnerability to international shocks. Bilateral cooperation between African and Western countries should be more oriented toward transfer of technology, knowledge and managerial skills. Poor transportation could magnify import prices, and also impede the distribution of products between production zones and consumption areas within and out of the country. Improving transportation logistics and infrastructure would be helpful in reducing costs of food transportation to African LDC consumers. In addition, policies that promote for more diversified agricultural income sources, such as earnings from livestock and fishing, can help farmers withstand the unfavorable impact of agricultural price fluctuations on African LDCs.


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