Joint efforts urged to address global food price crisis 2008-04-16 09:15:13   Print

Rice is displayed for sale at a whole-sale food market in Hanoi April 5, 2008.(Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

Rice is displayed for sale at a whole-sale food market in Hanoi April 5, 2008.(Xinhua/Reuters Photo)
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    BEIJING, April 16 (Xinhua) -- World leaders are calling for concerted efforts to find solutions to the worsening food price crisis, warning social unrest would spread unless the price of staple food was contained.

    The food crisis around the world has reached "emergency proportions," UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said at the World Bank spring meeting in Washington over the weekend.

    The United Nations called Monday for a long-term policy on food grain production in order to avert famine amidst fast rising food prices.

    Global wheat prices jumped 181 percent over the last three years, with overall food prices up 83 percent, a World Bank report said last week. A total of 37 countries currently face food crises, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

    Soaring food prices have incited unrest in some hard-stricken countries, such as Haiti, Egypt and the Philippines. The riots in Haiti recently have forced Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis to step down.

    In Asia, the soaring prices of rice is putting leaders under intense pressure as mounting strikes and protests are demanding pay hikes to keep up with the rising costs of living.

    The world community should pay greater attention to the possible consequences brought about by the price hikes and beef up aid for those most needy countries in Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and Asia, said Jacques Diouf, Director General of the FAO, at a signing ceremony of a cooperation deal between the FAO and the Union of European Football Associations in Lisbon, the Portuguese capital, on Monday.

    The official expressed concern about the situation, saying there was a lack of political willingness to stop famine affecting some 860 million people worldwide.

    It is paramount to consolidate international cooperation in addressing these problems, he stressed.

    Saying that there was insufficient global governance on the surging food prices, French Agriculture Minister Michel Barnier said on Monday that governments must take action to stem the crisis.

    "We must not leave the feeding of the people, a vital issue, to the mercy of the whims of market forces and international speculation alone," he told a local radio.

    "I think we Europeans must ask this question within all international organizations," he said.

    The agriculture minister said his country was planning to submit the idea of an "European initiative for food security." Within the framework of this initiative, "agricultural production for food would become a priority recognized throughout the world," he added.

    Britain has also said the issue of rising food prices needs to be addressed "at the highest political levels."

    Prime Minister Gordon Brown will address a business audience on Tuesday to repeat his call for urgent actions to counter soaring food prices, local media reported Monday.

    Speaking at the 118th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Unionon Sunday, South African President Thabo Mbeki called for joint efforts to help Africa get rid of poverty and find common ground to ensure food security.

    Indian Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram urged actions to counter the food crisis, saying rising food costs threatened to stir more social unrest.

    "Unless we act fast for a global consensus on the price spiral, the social unrest induced by food prices in several countries will conflagrate into a global contagion, leaving no country -- developed or otherwise -- unscathed," he said at the World Bank spring meeting.

    "This is not just a question about short-term needs, as important as those are. This is about ensuring that future generations don't pay a price too," said World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick at the financial body's spring meeting.

    The surge in food prices could push 100 million people into deeper poverty, Zoellick warned.

    Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Dominique Strauss-Kahn echoed Zoellick's remarks, saying all IMF's assistance to low-income countries on economic and financial development issues "could be destroyed very rapidly by the crisis coming through the increase in food prices."

    Because of the surge in prices, many poor countries are likely to have a "huge deficit" in trade balance that would disrupt those countries' economies, Strauss-Kahn added.

    "As we know, learning from the past, those kind of questions sometimes end in war," the official warned.

World Bank: Rising food prices threaten poverty reduction

    WASHINGTON, April 9 (Xinhua) -- High food prices are threatening recent gains in overcoming poverty and malnutrition, and are likely to persist over the medium term, according to a new World Bank Group policy note released Wednesday. Full Story

UN chief concerned about global rise in food prices

    UNITED NATIONS, April 7 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was deeply concerned about the global rise in food prices, UN spokesperson Michele Montas said Monday. Full Story

WB: East Asia should cope with rising food prices

    DA NANG, Vietnam, April 4 (Xinhua) -- East Asian economies are facing major economic challenges in the coming months as they deal simultaneously with higher prices and slower growth, said a press release by the World Bank (WB) here Friday. Full Story

Steps urged to rein in food prices

    BEIJING, March. 24 -- Top agriculture experts yesterday warned against further rises in food prices, calling for effective measures to ease the impact on society. Full Story

Editor: Du Guodong
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