Nearly three years ago, in 2008, the world saw one of the biggest increases in agricultural prices, which led, among other things, to sustained rioting in developing countries, where the populations could no longer purchase basic foodstuffs. Jean-Paul Jamet, a specialist in agricultural economics, looks back over that price spike, which gave way to a marked fall in prices the following year.
In this article Jamet shows what were the conjunctural (e.g. climatic incidents in certain regions), structural (reduced scientific and technical progress, lesser intensity of production processes) and systemic (weakness of the US dollar, financial crisis, rise in energy prices) factors affecting the demand for, and supply of, agricultural products, leading to the instability and volatility we have seen in agricultural markets in the last few years. He goes on to stress the need to revise agricultural policies and the organization of agricultural markets in such a way as to mesh better with development policies and thus avoid the recurrence of such food price crises. As he sees it, this may involve rethinking the way food supplies are managed, a more responsible flexibility in production subsidies, and a form of regulation that is more regional than global etc., all the while respecting current ecological constraints.