International agricultural commodity prices rose dramatically from the summer of 2006 through mid-2008. Then they fell faster than they rose, until December 2008, but to levels higher than historic norms. The consensus outlook is for world agricultural prices to remain high and volatile. It is expected that the past trends of demand increasing faster than supply and the persistent new biofuels demands will continue (OECD-FAO, 2008). Today‘s deteriorating global economic conditions add considerable uncertainty to that prediction. Commodity prices are now linked more directly via biofuels demand and depend strongly on bilateral exchange rate adjustments and global macroeconomic outcomes.
The recent food crisis has renewed interest in existing problems with developing country agriculture, but presents opportunities to build upon, as well. Much is now known about how to implement safety nets, to foster more rapid agricultural development, and to bring pro-poor growth. The international community seemed better able to deliver emergency relief. Innovation in delivery of food aid, and use of cash transfers rather than targeted aid were pursued where existing programs allowed this. Local procurement lowered costs and complemented agricultural development efforts.