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Food prices still high in developing nations: UN

July 17, 2009 13:38 IST
The United Nations on Friday expressed concern that food prices continue to remain high in developing countries, hurting millions of poor in both rural and urban areas.

"The high food price situation continues to give rise to concern for the food security of vulnerable populations in both urban and rural areas, as these groups spend a large share of their incomes on food," the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said in a report released at the UN headquarters in New York.

In several countries, current prices exceed last year's highs or stand at record levels, according to the report 'Crop Prospects and Food Situation'.

In 27 sub-Saharan African nations, FAO found that 80 to 90 per cent of all cereal prices remain over 25 per cent higher than before the food price crisis two years ago.

For instance in Sudan, the report said, prices of sorghum, a type of grain, was three times higher in June than they were two years ago.

In Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia, maize prizes have doubled, while in Southern Africa, they have dropped recently due to a bumper harvest but remain above pre-2007 levels, it said.

Spurring continued high prices in poorer nations are reduced harvests, higher or delayed imports, civil conflicts, strong demand in neighbouring countries, devalued national currencies, and higher transport costs, among other factors, the report said.

Although global cereal production will decline by three per cent this year from 2008, which saw the largest harvest ever, the report said that the outlook for world cereal supply and demand is satisfactory.

It also cautioned that 30 countries around the globe are in crisis and require assistance due to natural disasters, insecurity and economic problems.

FAO's Rome headquarters will host a World Food Summit in November to further success towards eradicating hunger and improving governance of the international agricultural system, the UN said in a statement.

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