News / Africa

Food Outlook Improved but Future Remains Uncertain

People try to grab onions being sold by a political party at cheap rates as a mark of protest against the rising prices in Mumbai, India, January 9, 2011 (file photo)
People try to grab onions being sold by a political party at cheap rates as a mark of protest against the rising prices in Mumbai, India, January 9, 2011 (file photo)

Multimedia

Audio
Kim Lewis

A new report shows an improved world food outlook but uncertainty about the future. The Food and Agriculture Organization [FAO] Tuesday released its latest Food Outlook. Food prices are just finishing a season where markets have been tight because of the unstable world economy. The FAO says the next few months will be critical.

“We would have markets slightly more relaxed in 2010-2011, and therefore, prices slightly lower,” said Abdol Reza Abbassian, grain analyst for the FAO in Rome. “But slightly lower prices don’t make low prices. What we see in terms of supply at hand and the projected amount in the coming months into 2012, we do see prices [remaining] high.”

Abbassian said the number for the food import bill for 2011 is expected to be near 1.3 trillion, a 30% increase from last season.

“Now when you look a bit deeper you will see that the 30% increase in the import bill, which is the biggest of all increases, occurred in the least developed countries and countries with very low income,” he said.

In these countries, where people spend so much of their money on food, it results in a greater hardship for a big portion of the population. This would be the case, he said, even if governments decided not to pass the cost down to the consumer.

He explained that they might do that “because of fear of instability and other problems, [but consumers] still would have to pay for the imports. Somewhere along the line, the balance of their payment situation would deteriorate.”

While almost all foods, including grains, meats, dairy and fish, are expected to remain high in the 2011-2012 forecast, Abbassian said corn production could be problematic. He noted the strong demand for corn and said the world’s biggest producer, the United States, has had a decrease in production, due to some extent to the weather. Wheat production could also decline further in 2012, he said.

“These two crops, which are also extremely important crops for many countries around the world as food staples, are more on the forefront,” said Abbassian. He said the problem is not so much the availability of food but access to it.

He said not only are the prices higher “than we are used to,” but also “everyone expects these prices to remain at this level for the foreseeable future.”

He said the high prices are also an indication that farmers are probably not investing enough in their farms. “When asked why not, they may tell you prices are not high enough,” said Abbassian, who noted that it’s a vicious cycle.

He said the low prices that prevailed for many decades have done tremendous harm to productivity and agricultural systems, especially in developing countries. High prices may in some way remedy the problem, said Abbassian, but it will be a long transition.

He said what needs to be done is to make sure the most vulnerable have access to food supplies.

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment 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.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
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 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 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.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid