News / Africa

UN Report: Higher Food Prices Here to Stay

Vegetables on display at a market in Zanzibar. Research shows that most African food producers are women, but that their output is much lower than what it should be.
Vegetables on display at a market in Zanzibar. Research shows that most African food producers are women, but that their output is much lower than what it should be.

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua

Higher food prices and volatile commodity markets are here to stay. That’s the conclusion of a new report from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization [FAO] and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development [OECD].

The report said a good harvest in the coming months “may keep prices below the extreme levels seen earlier this year.” But over the next 10 years, cereal prices could be 20 percent higher and meat prices 30 percent higher than in the last decade.

“We’ve been saying this probably for the last two or three years, since the run-up in prices in 2008,” said Merritt Kluff, senior economist in the FAO’s Trade and Markets Division.

Driving factors

Kluff said, “It’s largely contingent on…high energy prices, on the one hand, which [are] affecting…input costs and also demand for biofuels on the other side. That’s one factor. The underlying factor probably is rapid growth in emerging countries in Asia and South America, which is putting upward pressure on the demand for food and feed.”

In addition, agriculture productivity has slowed.

“We don’t see that picking up, despite the fact that there’s a lot of potential for higher supplies from developing countries, in particular, where there are large yield gaps,” he said.

Profits and losses

Some will benefit from the higher commodity prices, but others will suffer.

“Certainly, net food producers will be clear beneficiaries literally globally. Where price transmission from international markets to domestic markets is actually efficient, producers will benefit clearly from this. And we should see some, considerable, in some cases, supply response to these high prices,” he said.

However, higher fertilizer costs could cut into the producers’ profit margin somewhat.

“Those hurt, of course, are the net food buyers certainly in cities and urban communities, but also even in rural settings where people who work for farmers or people who are working in the rural area will pay higher food prices and they will lose. Some of them very poor, unfortunately,” he said.

Instability

Higher food prices triggered riots in many countries in 2007 and 2008. The food security issue is also linked to the uprising in Tunisia.                                      Kluff said the risk of violence over food prices and volatility remains.

“Certainly, it does. It’s much muted right now because fortunately we’ve had very decent crops and [the] supply disposition situation for rice looks ok. The major commodity that’s currently being affected is corn, or maize, and its prices are certainly higher than they were before. But that’s mostly a feed grain crop, by and large. Although it does have knock-on effects to the other commodities and they’re high, too,” he said.

Kluff said fortunately rice, a food security crop in Asia and parts of Africa, is not being dramatically affected right now.

G20

The G20 agriculture ministers meet in Paris next week. It’s the ministers’ first-ever official meeting as a group and Kluff expects them to address the link between food security and higher commodity prices.

“This is fundamental to the issue. In fact, we covered this issue of volatility last year in our report and we covered it again in this year’s report primarily for this reason,” he said.

The FAO and OECD have proposed some solutions, including better informing buyers and traders.

“We need to increase productivity growth, in particular, in developing countries. And we need to get greater information, market information, from countries so that we actually know what’s going on,” said Kluff.

He warned that countries that have imposed food export restrictions out of fear of higher prices could actually make matters worse.

FAO director-general Jacque Diouf said the “key solution” to price volatility “will be boosting investment in agriculture and reinforcing rural development in developing countries.”

You May Like

Sambisa Forest Stands Between Nigeria, Victory Over Boko Haram

Military takes back nearly all towns, villages in northeast, except for massive expanse of forest that spreads thousands of square kilometers over several states More

IS Recruiting Stokes Fears for Parents in Georgia

Chechens are notable part of Islamic State's gains in Syria and Iraq, and analysts fear what might happen if those fighters return to Caucasus More

Yarmouk Camp Becomes Distant Memory for Palestinian Diaspora

Once thriving capital of Palestinian diaspora, after siege by Syrian government forces and Islamic State group, camp becomes 'deepest circle of hell' 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.
Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'i
X
Sharon Behn
April 21, 2015 9:18 PM
A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten. Sharon Behn reports on the politics of the word genocide on the 100th anniversary of the events.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video German Program Helps Migrants Overcome Traumatic Experience at Sea

Migrants fleeing poverty and violence in parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia risk life and limb to reach safety in Europe. Those who have made it to European shores are traumatized by the experience. A program in Germany helps survivors overcome the trauma by giving a new perspective to their catastrophic experience. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video New Test Set to Be Game Changer in Eradicating Malaria

The World Health Organization estimates 3.4 billion people are at risk of malaria, with children under the age of five and pregnant women being the most vulnerable. As World Malaria Day approaches (April 25), mortality rates are falling, and a new test -- well into the last stage of trials -- is having positive results in Kenya. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA from Nairobi.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.

VOA Blogs