News / Africa

UN Warns Volatile Food Prices Threat to Food Security

TEXT SIZE - +

United Nations experts are describing volatile food prices as a major threat to food security. At a special meeting of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome Friday, they concluded that a repeat of the 2007-2008 food price crisis is not imminent, but new measures are needed to control fluctuations in grain markets.

Russia's exceptional drought and the country's ban on wheat exports have pushed up wheat prices to two-year highs. The increases have brought back bad memories of price spikes in 2007 and 2008, which triggered food riots in several countries around the world. But FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf says conditions are much different today. "The global production forecast for cereals in 2010 is still the third highest on record, and the world cereal stocks-to-use ratio is well above the 30-year low registered in 2007-2008," he said.

FAO officials say energy prices and economic growth also are much lower than in 2008. As a result, they agreed that a repeat of the earlier crisis is unlikely.

In addition to Russia's export ban, the delegates identified speculation by financial investors and a lack of information in some countries about global supply and demand as factors driving price volatility.

However, FAO grains chief Abdolreza Abbassian says they also agreed the danger is not over. "This issue of volatility in prices, it is not something that is now going to go away. This year [it] may be Russia. Next year [it] may be another country, or another factor," he said.

The experts said price volatility is a major threat to food security, and they recommended more work to deal with its causes.

Sophia Murphy is a senior advisor with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. She says now that countries have agreed on these key points, what they do next will be the hard part.  "A lot of what needs to be done is quite controversial. It involves getting into regulating commodity exchanges. It involves a lot of developing countries thinking again about a more public role in managing food stocks and grain reserves. So I think they find it difficult to come to agreement on what to do, even though everyone agrees they have to do something," she said.

She says financial reforms the United States passed this summer are a step in the right direction, but more countries will need to make changes as well.

And agriculture experts disagree on how to manage grain reserves to protect against price spikes.

The issues are expected to come up again at an FAO food security meeting next month. And some food experts say the G-20 group of top economies should work on formulating a global response to what is fundamentally a global issue.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid