The Least Developed Countries Report 2009

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The Least Developed Countries (LDCs) are a group of countries that have been classified by the United Nations as least developed in terms of their low GDP per capita, their weak human assets and their high degree of economic vulnerability. This Report argues that the impact of the global economic crisis is likely to be so severe in LDCs that “business as usual” is no longer possible. The crisis offers the necessity and opportunity for change. The Report sketches out a concrete, alternative economic strategy and a fresh agenda for LDC policymakers, which includes institutional capacity-building and the strengthening of the market-complementing developmental State.

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Setting the agenda for agricultural policy in LDCs

For many least developed countries (LDCs), food security1 remains a major priority and policy objective. The global food crisis that erupted in the spring of 2008 served to highlight food insecurity as one of the most fundamental constraints on growth and development in LDCs. The United Nations World Food Programme estimates that the price hikes between late 2007 and the middle of 2008 resulted in an additional 100 million people having inadequate access to food. For LDCs, the impact of the food crisis has been exacerbated by the current global financial crisis and the damaging consequences of climate change, which, in turn, have led to a disturbing trend towards purchasing land for outsourced food production by non-LDC States. Most LDCs face multiple challenges, such as the global fragility of multilateral trade, volatility of growth, liquidity and credit shortages, and vulnerability to natural disasters.2 Improved food security in LDCs could be realized through a combination of policies and measures, including the provision or enhancement of basic infrastructure, and the adoption of improved food production technologies and farming techniques.

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