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

Photogallery Oxfam: Ebola Could Be 'Disaster of Our Generation'

Meanwhile, Fidel Castro, the former leader of Cuba, says the Caribbean island nation will 'gladly cooperate' with the US in the fight against Ebola in West Africa More

Multimedia Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

Refugees receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed More

India’s Ruling Nationalist Party Makes Gains in Regional Elections

Bharatiya Janata Party’s huge margin over its rivals puts it on course to form governments in the northern Haryana and western Maharashtra states 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.
Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fighti
X
Zana Omer
October 18, 2014 6:37 PM
The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.
Video

Video Church for Atheists Goes Global

Atheists, by definition, do not believe in God. So they should have no need of a church. But two years ago, a pair of British stand-up comedians decided to create one. Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans told the BBC they envisioned “something like church but without God". Their “Sunday Assembly” movement has grown from a single congregation in London to dozens of churches around the world. Reporter Mike Osborne visited with the members of a Sunday Assembly that now meets regularly in Nashville.
Video

Video Robot Locates Unexploded Underwater Mines

Many educators believe that hands-on experience is the best way to learn. Proving that the method works is a project developed by a group of students at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, New Jersey. They rose up to a challenge posted by the U.S. Department of Defense and successfully designed and built an underwater robot for locating submerged unexploded ordnance. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's JFK Hospital Reopens After Temporary Ebola Exposure

JFK Hospital is Liberia’s largest and one of its oldest medical facilities. The hospital had to close temporarily following the deaths of two leading doctors from Ebola. It is now getting back on its feet, with the maternity ward being the first section to reopen. Benno Muchler has more for VOA News from Monrovia.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Expose Generation Gap

Most of the tens of thousands of protesters in Hong Kong are students seeking democracy. Idealistic youths say while the older generation worries about the present, they are fighting for the territory's future. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Hong Kong.
Video

Video Liberians Living in US Struggle From Afar as Ebola Ravages Homeland

More than 8,000 Liberians live in New York City, more than in any other city outside of Liberia itself. As VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports, with the Ebola virus ravaging their homeland, there is no peace of mind for these New Yorkers.
Video

Video Kurds See War-Ravaged Kobani As Political, Emotional Heartland

Intense fighting is continuing between Islamic State militants -- also known as ISIS or ISIL -- and Kurdish forces around the Syrian town of Kobani, on the Turkish border. The U.S. said it carried out at least nine airstrikes against Islamic State positions Friday. Meanwhile the U.N. has warned that hundreds of civilians would be massacred if the town falls to the militants. Henry Ridgwell looks at the strategic significance of the city.

All About America

AppleAndroid