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.


    Steve Baragona

    Steve Baragona is an award-winning multimedia journalist covering science, environment and health.

    He spent eight years in molecular biology and infectious disease research before deciding that writing about science was more fun than doing it. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a master’s degree in journalism in 2002.

    You May Like

    Post-White House, Obamas to Rent Washington Mansion

    Nine-bedroom home is 3 kilometers from Oval Office, near capital's Embassy Row; rent estimated at around $22,000 a month

    Red Planet? Not so much!

    New research suggest that Mars is in a warm period between cyclical ice ages, and that during Ice Age Maximum over 500,000 years ago, the red planet was decidedly ice, and much whiter to the naked eye.

    Taj Mahal Battles New Threat from Insects

    Swarms of insects are proliferating in the heavily contaminated waters of the Yamuna River, which flows behind the 17th century monument

    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-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    World Currencies

    EUR
    USD
    0.8954
    JPY
    USD
    110.07
    GBP
    USD
    0.6802
    CAD
    USD
    1.2932
    INR
    USD
    67.080

    Rates may not be current.