Call for action on food prices

UN chief says price inflation is a threat to stability of many developing countries.

    Rising food prices have triggered riots in
    several  poor countries, Haiti for example [AFP]

    The soaring price of basic foodstuffs in some of the world's poorest nations has already caused riots in Haiti and demonstrations across Africa.
    "This is a worrisome situation as it poses a threat to the stability of many developing countries," he said.
    Global action
    Solving this crisis immediately is of particular importance as those hardest hit by it are those who have been left behind by globalisation, Ban said.
    Global food crisis

    Food riots have erupted in Haiti, Egypt, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Madagascar, the Philippines and Haiti in the past month


    In Pakistan and Thailand, army troops have been deployed to avoid food being seized from fields and warehouses


    Prices in these countries for foodstuffs such as rice, wheat, sorghum and maize have doubled


    Causes of crisis range from financial speculation on food commodities, desertification, population increases, China and India's economic growth and use of grains to make biofuels


    Cost of funding projects enabling governments to tackle food crisis could be up to $1.7bn


    However, world cereal production in 2008 is projected to increase by 2.6 per cent to a record 2,164 million tonnes


    Source: United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO)

    "Concerted international action is urgently needed to tackle this issue. Unctad's mandate is more important than ever in this context of deepening interdependence," he said.
    The meeting was set to begin with a speech by Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the Brazilian president, who is head of one of the so-called BRIC nations of rapidly expanding economies.
    They include Brazil, Russia, India and China and are a key player in the stalled Doha round of world trade talks.
    In his address to the Accra conference Ban was expected to warn that not everyone benefits from globalisation.
    "We are going to study the economic impacts of globalisation, including poverty reduction, wealth, employment, and we will draw the lesson that some countries benefit from globalisation, and others do not," he was expected to say.
    The conference is to explore the options to improve the international monetary and financial system, how to ensure the current boom in commodity prices translates into higher employment, and how countries can acquire the trade and productive capacities needed to compete on the world stage.
    The rise in trade in services, and the related expansion in international labour migration, will be considered as well, along with the impact of Asia's mounting energy needs on energy security and climate change.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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