UN agencies urge action on rising food prices to avoid food crisis

By Caroline Scott-Thomas

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags United nations 2007–2008 world food price crisis

UN agencies urge action on rising food prices to avoid food crisis
Three United Nations agencies have urged governments to take immediate action on the rapidly rising cost of staple grains in order to avoid a repeat of the 2007-08 food crisis.

Executives from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) said that the UN is better placed than it was five years ago to deal with rising food prices, having put in place new policies to improve transparency in global markets and a forum to coordinate policy responses by major world producers and traders of cereals and soybeans in the event of extreme market volatility.

However, FAO director-general José Granziano da Silva, IFAD president Kanayo F. Nwanze, and WFP executive director Ertharin Cousin said in a joint statement on Tuesday that governments need to coordinate their efforts to avoid a global food crisis.

“We need to act urgently to make sure that these price shocks do not turn into a catastrophe hurting tens of millions over the coming months,”​ they said.

The agency executives said that the problem is two-fold, with high food prices potentially impacting some of the world’s poorest people, alongside “the long-term issue of how we produce, trade and consume food in an age of increasing population, demand and climate change.”

They urged countries to avoid panic-buying and imposing export restrictions, which tend to exacerbate global problems, even though they may ease domestic situations.

And they also reiterated their previous advice that biofuel policies should be revised when grain supplies for food are under threat.

“In moving to prevent a possible deterioration of the situation, we need to remain vigilant and prepare for the worst in the short run, while working on sustainable solutions for the long haul,”​ they said.

Prolonged drought in the United States has pushed corn and soybean prices upward in particular, while dry weather in Russia is predicted to reduce its wheat harvest this year.

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