News / Africa

UN Warns Volatile Food Prices Threat to Food Security

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

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid