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

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video Survivor Video Testimonies Recount Horrors of Guatemalan Genocide

During a conflict that spanned more than three decades, tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans were killed More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8916
JPY
USD
121.32
GBP
USD
0.6487
CAD
USD
1.3252
INR
USD
66.401

Rates may not be current.