Food Prices ‘Stubbornly High’ In Developing Countries, Report Says

Food prices in developing nations continue to be “stubbornly high … despite a strong cereal harvest this year, and 31 countries need emergency aid,” the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said in its “Crop Prospects and Food Situation” report released Tuesday ahead of next week’s Rome World Summit on Food Security, Agence France-Presse reports.

“In Eastern Africa, the situation is particularly serious as drought and conflict has put an estimated 20 million people in need of food aid,” according to an FAO press release about the report, which is produced every three months (11/10). In the report, “FAO said delayed rains and dry spells often followed by floods had hurt crops and pastures in Kenya, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Uganda,” Reuters writes. “In Somalia and Sudan, poor weather has worsened a food emergency due to civil wars, with 3.6 million and 5.9 million people in need of food aid, respectively. In the case of Somalia, that is about 50 percent of the total population” (Aloisi, 11/10).

According to the report, “Below average rainfall required re-planting in many parts of West Africa and led to livestock losses in Mali, Chad and Niger,” VOA News reports (De Capua, 11/10). The press release notes that aggregate wheat production in North Africa “is expected to reach a new record of 21.5 million tonnes compared to 14.3 million tonnes in 2008 when the crop was badly affected by drought.” It also said that rice production in Asia “deteriorated since July following irregular monsoon rains in major rice-producing India and natural disasters in some other countries” (11/10). 

High food prices created riots in 2008, but that has not been the case this year, VOA News reports. “To qualify the level of prices, they have declined from their peak, but in most of the cases have stabilized at a level that is much higher than two years earlier,” said Liliane Balbi, a senior economist at FAO (11/10).