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A new report released this month warns that “food price volatility featuring high prices is likely to continue and possibly increase, making poor farmers, consumers and countries more vulnerable to poverty and food insecurity.” The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2011, published by the UN Food and Agricultural Organization, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, and the World Food Programme, looks at how the food crisis of 2006-2008 had a differing impact on countries around the world, the costs of food price volatility, and the dangers and upsides of high food prices.
The report explains that larger countries were able to deal with the worst of the crisis due to functioning safety nets, but poorer countries, particularly in Africa, suffered the worst impacts. It argues that high food prices and price volatility is likely to continue due to increasing demand from growing population and expanding economies, and strains on the supply side including effects of climate change, linkage of food prices to fuel prices, and declining rates of yield. High prices and price volatility also increase the vulnerability of small poor farmers to poverty making them less likely to invest in technology that could raise their productivity.
When the report was released the heads of the three UN agencies warned that crisis such as the food crisis of 2006-2008 and the current one in the Horn of Africa, “are challenging our efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of reducing the proportion of people who suffer from hunger by half in 2015…The entire international community must act today and act forcefully to banish food insecurity from the planet.”
The full report is available here: “The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2011”