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