Doc alert: Food insecurity update

FAO Media Centre: World hunger report 2011: High, volatile prices set to continue:

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 United Nations’ three Rome-based agencies said in the global hunger report published today.

Small, import-dependent countries, particularly in Africa, are especially at risk. Many of them still face severe problems following the world food and economic crises of 2006-2008, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) said in “The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2011” (SOFI), an annual flagship report which they jointly produced this year.

Such crises, including in the Horn of Africa, “are challenging our efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of reducing the proportion of people who suffer from hunger by half in 2015,” the heads of the three agencies — Jacques Diouf of FAO, Kanayo F. Nwanze of IFAD and Josette Sheeran of WFP — warned in a preface to the report.

Never acceptable

“But even if the MDG were achieved by 2015 some 600 million people in developing countries would still be undernourished. Having 600 million people suffering from hunger on a daily basis is never acceptable,” they said.

“The entire international community must act today and act forcefully to banish food insecurity from the planet,” the three heads added.

“Governments must ensure that a transparent and predictable regulatory environment is in place, one that promotes private investment and increases farm productivity. We must reduce food waste in developed countries through education and policies, and reduce food losses in developing countries by boosting investment in the entire value chain, especially post-harvest processing. More sustainable management of our natural resources, forests and fisheries are critical for the food security of many of the poorest members of society,” the three heads said.

High and volatile food prices likely to continue

This year’s report focuses on high and volatile food prices, identified as major contributing factors in food insecurity at global level and a source of grave concern to the international community.

“Demand from consumers in rapidly growing economies will increase, the population continues to grow, and further growth in biofuels will place additional demands on the food system,” the report said.

Moreover, food price volatility may increase over the next decade due to stronger linkages between agricultural and energy markets and more frequent extreme weather events.