Agricultural Commodity Crisis: And So To Market

It’s one of the paradoxes of modern life that gluts of products like coffee don’t always produce lower prices in coffee shops. Even more important, when the cappuccino machines are steaming at high pressure, farmers seem to see little reward for growing demand and production. For forty years the UN Conference on Trade and Development has grappled with such issues. It’s just had another try.

The World Today
3 minute READ

Mark Ritchie

President, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Minneapolis

Sophia Murphy

Senior Adviser, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

The world economy has altered enormously in the last half century. Despite the changes, however, some things are painfully familiar. Too many developing countries remain at a significant disadvantage compared to their developed country counterparts. Dependence on commodity trade is one of the familiar elements of developing countries’ relative poverty. Some Asian nations have successfully moved from primary commodity dependence to more diversified economies, but they are few.

Sub-Saharan Africa in particular remains heavily dependent on commodities, and yet has seen its contribution to world trade, manufactured exports and primary commodity exports all decline in the last twenty years. Seventeen of the twenty most important non-fuel exports from Africa are either primary commodities or partially processed commodities.

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