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World Economic Forum to Talk About Food Prices, Climate Change

Climate change and skyrocketing food prices in Africa are two of the items likely to be discussed at this week’s World Economic Forum. Officials say there will be a discussion on how to bring food prices down and increase production. Voice of America English to Africa Service reporter William Eagle says floods and droughts attributed to climate change are blamed in part for the problem.

Stephane Oertel of the World Economic Forum says there are other reasons for the rise in food prices as well.

He says “food crops are diminished by biofuel plantations in nations in Africa and Latin America; Africa is also being forced to [pay more for] foods; [meanwhile,] the UN finds it hard to buy sufficient food to help the crisis as we saw earlier this year…in Kenya and Mozambique. There’s also not enough food. If a commodity becomes rare, prices go up and that’s what we’ve been observing over the last year as a consequence of shortages of certain grains.“

Oertel says delegates will also discuss trade – and the failure of the World Trade Organization talks that would have eliminated subsidies to farm exports in industrialized countries. According to Oertel, “[Western] agriculture is heavily subsidized, and there are tariff protection barriers preventing African countries from acceding to the markets [of industrialized countries] at competitive prices. Africans have been complaining for decades they don’ t have access to these major markets.”

Trade, he adds, is always a big issue at the yearly meetings in Davos: “It’s the currency,” he says, “of the 21st century.”