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Document Abstract
Published: 2012

Rising food prices and declining food security: evidence from Afghanistan

Potential policy interventions to mitigate the effects of food price shocks: a case study of Afghanistan
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Food price shocks can exacerbate chronically low levels of nutrient intake in countries with large populations living in poverty with generally poor diets. This paper examines the case of Afghanistan in the 2007/08 season, when rapid rise in wheat prices impacted household food security.

The paper notes that Afghanistan’s economy is largely based on agriculture, and is particularly vulnerable to economic and natural shocks. In this sense, the paper finds that:
  • there was a significant household response to rising food prices in Afghanistan, reflecting an overall decline in food security
  • Afghani households traded off quality for quantity, moving away from micronutrient-rich foods like meat, fruit, and vegetables toward staples
  • likewise, there was a large decline in dietary diversity, which could be seen through shifts in expenditure shares devoted to various food groups
  • for households that spend the majority of their budgets on food, large increases in food prices eroded purchasing power, disproportionately affecting poor households and threatening their nutrition and health
  • urban areas experienced a much greater decline in the real value of food consumption than rural areas, and exhibited a more pronounced shift from higher quality food groups toward grains than did rural households

The study suggests the differences in coping strategies for rural and urban households might be driven by that rural households engaging in home food production were probably able to maintain a more diverse diet as wheat prices rose ? households with agricultural land experienced smaller declines in the real value of food consumption and dietary diversity.

The author thinks that potential policy interventions to mitigate the effects of food price shocks could include:
  • micronutrient supplementation programs based on food inflation indicators
  • employment-generation programs
  • incentives to encourage the adoption of yield-increasing agricultural practices
  • improvements in transportation and irrigation infrastructure
  • targeted food distribution programs
  • wheat fortification programs
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Authors

A. D’Souza

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