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African Sahel Faces Food Insecurity Despite Record Increase In Cereal Production; New Partnership To Address Food Supply In Middle East, North Africa

“According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) quarterly forecast of agricultural production and food,” the world is expected to see a record increase in cereal production in 2012, “[b]ut despite the positive global trends, countries in Africa’s Sahel region continue to face serious challenges to food security due to locally high food prices and civil strife, FAO said in a news release,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “Humanitarian organizations estimate that there are currently some 18 million people facing food insecurity in Africa’s Sahel region, which stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea, and includes Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and the northern regions of Cameroon and Nigeria,” the news service notes (6/13).

In related news, “[t]he Islamic Development Bank (IDB) is partnering with Dutch asset manager Robeco to launch a $600 million food and agriculture fund to invest in projects that promote steady food supply, an issue widely seen as a catalyst for the Arab Spring rebellions,” Reuters reports. A spike in food prices in “February 2011 helped fuel the Arab Spring in the Middle East and North Africa, pushing the issue to the top of the agenda of policymakers responsible for the region,” the news agency writes. The fund, the first public-private partnership of this size addressing food security, “hopes to raise an initial $350 million by the end of the year,” according to Reuters (Davies, 6/12).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.