The International Monetary Fund said Tuesday the current boom in fuel and food prices, the biggest commodity price gain in 30 years, is having an uneven impact and is hurting the world's poorest countries most.  VOA's Barry Wood reports.  

In its first analysis of this year's sharp run up in oil and grain prices,  the IMF said inflationary pressures are rising as a result. said the unprecedented rise in food and fuel costs have pushed several developing countries to a tipping point. "If food prices rise further and oil prices just stay the same, then some governments will be unable to feed people and at the same time maintain the stability of their economy," he said.

Eighteen African countries are hardest hit, with the worst impact being felt in Liberia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Togo, Comoros, Malawi and Guinea.

IMF economist Thomas Helbling detailed the huge rise in commodity prices since 2003. "Metals prices are about three times as high and food prices are about two times as high," he said.

Oil prices have quadrupled since 2003. Helbling said rice prices, which more than doubled over the past year, are beginning to come down. "This year we would actually expect rice prices, which have come down from recent highs, to come down a bit further," he said.

The IMF has not yet determined the extent to which world economic growth has been slowed by these price increases.