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Virginia Tech, Office of International Research, Education, and Development (OIRED)
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The global food security crisis threatens millions of people, particularly the world’s poorest who live in countries already experiencing chronic malnutrition. Beginning in September 2006 and ending in approximately June 2008, the world experienced a substantial increase in food prices leading to what is now commonly referred to as the food security crisis. During this period, the FAO world food price index increased from approximately 120 to 214 or approximately 78% and threatened to push 100s of millions of people who had recently escaped poverty back into poverty. Since then, food prices have moderated somewhat but the world food price index still stands at 156, a 30% increase over 2006 values and food prices have been increasing steadily for the past four months. Multiple factors have contributed to the food security crisis: increasing energy prices, lack of investments in agriculture, increasing demand due to rising incomes and economic growth, trade distorting subsidies, subsidized production of biofuel from food crops, food export restrictions in response to the crisis, and reduced food production due to bad weather and declining soil quality. This presentation provides an Overview of the global food security crisis and how and why it developed with an emphasis on productivity increase challenges. Other speakers in the Conservation Agriculture and Food Security Symposium will address the role of declining soil quality and how conservation agriculture can help address some of these productivity challenges.