News in Brief 10 September 2015 (PM)

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Global wheat production for 2015 is now forecast at 728 million tonnes, 5 million more than previously foreseen. Photo: FAO/Olivier Thuillier

Food prices hit sharpest drop in seven years

The prices of the five major food commodities have fallen to their lowest levels in almost seven years, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported on Thursday.

FAO tracks the change in the cost of cereals, meat, dairy products, vegetable oils and sugar through its Food Price Index, issued monthly.

The agency attributes the decline to several factors including ample supplies, a slump in energy prices and concerns over an economic slowdown in China.

For example, it says the "substantial drop" in the price of cheese, butter and milk powders is due to softening import demand from China, the Near East and North Africa.

More Afghans facing food insecurity

The number of people in Afghanistan who are facing food insecurity is rising, a new study finds.

It says more than 1.5 million citizens are now considered "severely food insecure," an increase of nearly 320,000 since 12 months ago.

Meanwhile, 7.3 million citizens—more than one in every four Afghans—is moderately food insecure.

The assessment also reveals that the percentage of people forced to sell land, take their children out of school, or depend on relatives for support has also doubled.

The study was conducted by UN agencies and their partners who say the problem is due to food access and not food production.

International tourist arrivals take off in first half of 2015

More than 530 million people worldwide took a vacation abroad during the first six months of the year; an increase of more than 20 million when compared to 2014.

That information comes from the World Tourism Organization.

Europe, Asia and the Pacific and the Middle East all recorded five per cent growth in international arrivals, and the Americas four per cent.

However, data from Africa indicates a decrease of six per cent.

The organization says in spite of overall growth, results by destination are mixed as safety and security remain top concerns for travelers.

Economic factors, lower oil prices and currency fluctuations have also had an impact on tourism demand.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 2’15″

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