News / Economy

World Bank Discusses High Food Prices

A giant electronic display outside the World Bank's headquarters in Washington, D.C., is tallying the number of chronically hungry people in the world today, April 2011
A giant electronic display outside the World Bank's headquarters in Washington, D.C., is tallying the number of chronically hungry people in the world today, April 2011

Multimedia

Global food prices have risen by 36 percent in the past year, according to figures released this week by the World Bank. The Bank hosted its spring meetings in Washington this week, where it called on policymakers to focus on food security. Experts say that for many developing countries, that means supporting the interests of small farmers.

Outside the World Bank's headquarters in Washington, D.C., a giant electronic display is tallying the number of chronically hungry people in the world today. As the digits tick up toward one billion, the World Bank is calling on policymakers to put food first.

A panel of experts discussed today's high food prices. World Bank sustainable development expert Inger Anderson said small farmers are at the center of the hunger problem.

"The majority of the poor farmers are small farmers. And the voice of the small farmers is not heard sufficiently. And they are actually the ones that are feeding by far the largest proportion of the world's poor."

Lindiwe Majele Sibanda with the African policy analysis group FANRPAN says small farmers face a range of challenges, especially in Africa.

"We are using seeds that are not best-placed to produce the best. The soil management practices are not applied. The water - 95 percent of our agriculture is rain-fed - which means in bad years you can harvest nothing."

Rwanda's minister of agriculture, Agnes Kalibata, was on the panel representing a country that experts praise for its commitment to agriculture. She said Rwanda has benefited from organizing small farmers into cooperatives.

"They access inputs - that's seeds, improved seeds, fertilizers. Extension, which would be extremely difficult to deliver without this consolidation. And then, technologies on planting and production. In that forum, also, farmers are able to look at opportunities of markets. To open up their minds to think about markets, which they would never have done as individual farmers," said Kalibata.

Rwanda was the first country to agree to an African Union program to commit 10 percent of its national budget to agriculture. Kalibata said that kind of political leadership is essential if governments are to succeed in reducing hunger.

"The worst form of abuse to mankind is hunger. Once we agree on that, we do the right thing by the farmer," she said.

Beyond exercising leadership, says the World Bank's Anderson, there are other things governments can do.

"Ensuring that there are the kinds of roads that can move the produce from point A to point B to market. And ensuring that there are no policies that obstruct farmers from selling their goods at the appropriate price," said Anderson.

Many factors are involved in improving small farmers' productivity, from seeds and water to transportation and access to markets. FANRPAN's Sibanda said policymakers must tackle them all.

"We cannot prioritize one over the other. There's got to be a holistic approach with the ultimate aim that food is more available," said Sibanda.

With food prices high and demand increasing, experts say the way to avert worsening hunger in the world is to put food first.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal 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.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8143
JPY
USD
119.23
GBP
USD
0.6390
CAD
USD
1.1596
INR
USD
63.304

Rates may not be current.