FAO sounds alarm on food price volatility

FAO food prices

FAO food prices

Global food prices are on the rise again. The UN estimates that 44 million people have been pushed into poverty since last June because of the volatility of food prices. To avoid a repeat of the 2007-2008 riots, the UN’s Food Agency or FAO is calling for urgent action.

Jocelyne Sambira has the story.

FAO warns that global food prices are increasing and the organization fears a repeat of the 2007-2008 food riots if nothing is done.

During the crisis, many countries banned food exports and encouraged hoarding, driving prices up, US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton told an FAO meeting in Rome on Friday.

Now that food prices have surpassed the 2008 levels, Clinton is calling for swift action.

“The FAO food price index reached an all time high in February. Yesterday’s update showed little decrease. The World Bank estimates that 44 million people have been pushed into poverty since last June because of rising food prices.”

Jacques Diouf, FAO’ Director-General echoes her concern about global instability that could result from food shortages.

“There is not only a technical and economic challenge. But with the riots of 2008 in many countries around the world, due to high food prices, and with the new price hikes since June 2010, the problem becomes a question of peace and stability around the world.”

Two years ago in L’Aquila, Italy, world leaders made a promise to reinvest in agricultural development, pledging to set up a 22 billion dollar fund to boost food production in poor countries.

So far, less than half of that sum has been disbursed.

In the meantime, FAO has been making rounds encouraging governments to avoid past policies like export bans that only made matters worse.

Hillary Clinton says these efforts have been positive.

“Now thankfully the situation we face today is not yet as serious. But I come before you to reinforce what you are already doing because we must act now effectively and cooperatively to blunt the negative impact of rising food prices, and protect people and communities.”

In next month’s meeting to discuss global food security in Paris, FAO’s Jacques Diouf says his organization will bring to the table some timely solutions to deal with the imbalance between food demand and supply.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration: 2’31”

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