Food Prices In Developing Countries Remain High, Despite Global Drop

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on Thursday said food prices remain high in many developing countries because of reduced harvests, civil conflict and other factors, AP/ reports (7/16).

“Despite a drop in international food prices and good cereal harvests overall,” current prices in several countries exceed 2008 highs or are at record levels, according to the “Crop Prospects and Food Situation” report, the U.N. News Centre reports. In 27 sub-Saharan African countries, FAO found between 80 and 90 percent of all cereal prices “remain over 25 percent higher than before the food price crisis two years ago,” writes the U.N. News Centre (7/16).

Reuters reports: “World cereals output was expected to fall 3.4 percent to 2.209 billion tonnes in 2009… cutting [FAO’s] previous forecast by 10 million tonnes” (Kovalyova, 7/16).

Despite the drop from 2008, which “saw the largest harvest ever, the report said that the outlook for world cereal supply and demand is satisfactory,” the PTI/Hindu reports (7/17).

According to the report, prices of the grain sorghum in Sudan “were three times higher in June than they were two years ago” and “maize prices doubled” in Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia, “while in Southern Africa, they have dropped recently due to a bumper harvest but remain above pre-2007 levels,” the U.N. News Centre writes.

In addition to reduced harvests and internal conflicts, the FAO listed higher or delayed imports, strong demand in neighboring countries, devalued national currencies and higher transport costs as some of the factors contributing to the continued high price of food in developing countries. “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 FAO report said (7/16).

According to an FAO release, “Despite a positive outlook for global cereal supplies, 30 countries around the world are in crisis and require assistance as a result of natural disasters, conflict or insecurity, and economic problems.” A summit that will address world food security is scheduled to take place in Rome, Italy, November 16-18 (7/16).

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