Tuesday, November 10, 2009

FAO: conditions 'ripe' for another food crisis

The Food and Agriculture Organization is warning that another food crisis could occur soon. The FAO says that food production in the under-developed world needs increase to protect those countries from sharp hikes in food prices.

From Reuters, writer Daniel Flynn attended a speech made by FAO director Jacques Diouf.

In an interview ahead of a global summit on food security in Rome next week, FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf said more aid was needed to curb the rising number of hungry people in the world, which topped 1 billion for the first time this year.

"There is a lack of priority in fighting hunger and poverty at the highest political level, not only in developed countries but in developing countries," Diouf told Reuters on Monday.

"The fundamentals that led to the crisis in 2007-2008 are almost all still there, except for oil prices," he added, citing climate change shocks like droughts in Africa, strong population growth in developing countries and use of bio-fuels.

Prices of food staples like cereals doubled in many parts of the world in 2007-2008, sparking protests and rioting.

Rich nations responded by raising output by 13 percent, but developing countries were only able to manage a 2.7 percent increase, Diouf said. Excluding China, India and Brazil, the rise in output was an anaemic 0.7 percent.

"No wonder that in those countries prices have remained very high," said Diouf, noting that food prices had barely eased from their peaks of last year in many developing nations.

Rich nations needed to raise the share of aid earmarked for agriculture to 17 percent, from 5 percent at present, to provide farmers in poor nations with irrigation, fertilizers, disease-resistant seeds, storage for their crops and roads to take them to market, Diouf said.

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