Alternative policies to buffer stocks for food security.
Public stockholding remains a major concern in multilateral negotiations on agricultural trade liberalisation. This paper focuses on identifying alternative policies to buffer stockholding. It first positions buffer stocks within the range of policies aimed at price stabilisation and food security, with a view to identifying alternatives to meet the same policy objectives. The paper then examines the most direct alternative to public food stocks for price stabilisation, namely private stockholding. It explores experience with private stockholding to assess its effectiveness in achieving price stabilisation objectives and the necessary conditions for implementation. As the price stabilisation role of buffer stocks is also argued to be necessary for food security, the paper also explores alternative approaches that governments may take to meeting this food security objective through social safety nets. Some illustrative examples are explored to highlight key elements for successful implementation. The paper concludes with some observations regarding policy alternatives to buffer stocks.