The political economy of food price policy - an interview with Per Pinstrup-Andersen

The interview provides information on how the project was set up and the key issues discussed. It also looks at the continuing relevance of the findings of the project, and discusses WIDER’s way of working. Per Pinstrup-Andersen coordinated the project. He is an Emeritus Professor from Cornell University; was Director of the International Food Policy Research Institute and was the 2001 World Food Prize Laureate.

This interview discusses the financial implications of some of the policy choices taken by governments. It addresses the inefficiency of stockpiling food as a policy. It discusses biofuels and the need for blending mandates to be allowed to respond to price signals. Finally, it calls for better cooperation between the public and private sectors.

The interview discusses government concerns about food price rises and their policy responses. It looks at the mechanisms used by governments, including trade policy and support for targeted groups. It argues that government survival and protection of its legitimacy is often the primary policy goal. The project uses a political economy approach to understanding government policy, and analyses the pressures on, and divisions in, governments. It calls for the current phase of lower food prices to be used as a time to develop better policies to protect against the impact of possible future price rises. It concludes by suggesting how WIDER should advise governments.