News / Africa

FAO: Food Prices Fell Sharply in December

Joe DeCapua

International food prices fell sharply in December. However, a U.N. agency says overall prices remained high in 2011. The Food and Agriculture Organization also says that price trends are uncertain for 2012.

FAO Senior Grains Economist Abdolreza Abbassian said the Food Price Index fell nearly two and a half percent from November.

“Well, December was simply a continuation of the downward trend that we’ve been witnessing for the last, let’s say, 5 or 6 months, which was in reaction to production numbers being revised up quite, I would say, significantly, the recession fears and a slowdown in the global economy and the strengthening of the dollar. So, I think those three factors weighed quite heavily on international prices,” he said.

Face value

The FAO Food Price Index measures 55 commodities on the international market. Abbassian said the decline in prices last month should not simply be taken at face value.

“If you’re a consumer or an importing country, obviously, any decline in price is a welcome development. But we need to put this in perspective. Put this in perspective means that a lot of the poorer countries or developing countries would have to pay for the food imports with (the) U.S. dollar. And (the) U.S. dollar had appreciated quite a bit depending of course against which currency and which country. But in general terms it’s been strengthening. And this to some extent could unfortunately offset any gain received from paying lower prices,” he said.

Declines were led by lower prices for cereals, sugar and oils due, in part, to bumper crops in 2011. But Abbassian said those declines were generally modest, despite December’s figures. Average prices for the year were actually higher than 2008 during the food crisis – and the highest since 1990 when the Food Price Index began, once adjusted for inflation.

“Any decline,” he said, “is good from that perspective. One has to be a bit careful about celebrating it. You know it’s not going to have such a significant impact unfortunately in terms of helping these countries to cope with the high food prices, especially at the time when (there are) a lot of uncertainties in the fuel market. A lot of these countries also are also big importers of energy and fuels.”

No crystal ball

So what do 2011 prices mean for 2012? The FAO economist won’t make any official prediction.

“I wish I could. It is one thing we have learned (the) hard way is that especially with the food index, which has 55 commodities inside it, and given especially what’s happening and what we’re hearing every day about the world market and the different uncertainties, it is really next to impossible,” he said.

He says his personal view is that there will not be significant declines in food prices this year. He says more will be known in March and April when food production forecasts are made. Abbassian does say, though, that he does not foresee a repeat of the turmoil of the 2007/2008 food crisis.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid