Regulatory Responses & the Global Food Crisis

Recently wheat export bans in Russia and food riots in Mozambique have evidenced that the global food crisis has definitely not abated and is actually more pervasive than previously imagined. Hilton Lambert has collaborated with the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) in examining the Southern African policy responses to the crisis and the role that the trading system can play in alleviating its causes and consequences.

Given the recent global food price hikes, which revealed the vulnerability of social and economic development in the face of food insecurity, the study contextualizes the situation in the Southern African Development Community (SADC). This report analyzes the policy responses of some of the countries in this bloc and their implication for intraregional trade and regional integration and the broader objectives of food security. Generally, countries in Southern Africa are in a more or less permanent food-security crisis, and policy formulation and responses are geared toward this reality on an ongoing basis. Therefore, in examining the regional response, there is not a huge divergence between ongoing policies and responses and immediate reactionary responses to the food crisis. However, this paper attempts to situate these policy measures in the continental Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Program (CAADP), which has broad support across Africa and is the focal point for addressing the impacts of the crisis via a coordinated policy response in the region. It is clear that during the crisis countries with strong food production capacity have a huge advantage over those dependent on imports, even when these imports are usually at subsidized prices or even via donations.
It is crucial for engendering food security to prevent the global food crisis from weakening the region, and it is essential for SADC to seize the opportunity of making food security a tool that contributes to unlocking the agricultural potential of the region to produce enough food for its people, enhancing its commercial capacities to generate tradable surpluses and creating jobs for rural people.
Improved trade policies can also yield important gains, using existing and emerging WTO rules.

To download the full version of the study click here.