FAO says high and volatile food prices are here to stay

By Ben Grossman-Cohen

Responding to the announcement by the FAO today, that cereal prices are still 69 percent higher than a year ago and high and volatile agricultural commodity prices are likely to prevail for the rest of this year and into 2012, Luca Chinotti, Oxfam’s Policy Advisor in Rome said:

“We have seen month after month of high and volatile food prices and the end is nowhere in sight. For many of the world’s poorest people, who spend up to 80 percent of their income on food, it means yet another month of going without enough to eat. Years of under investment in developing country agriculture means poor producers are unable to benefit from the surge in prices and are also losing out.”

“The global food system is broken and G20 Agriculture Ministers meeting in France at the end of June must start the repair work. They must regulate the commodity markets, reform flawed biofuels policies which encourage companies to divert food into fuel, and they must support poor countries to scale up their food reserves”.

The FAO also reported that record harvests are expected to barely meet demand.

“With harvests only just expected to meet demand Ministers must also invest in the 500 million small-holder farms in developing countries which offer the greatest potential for increasing global yields. Governments should also agree a global climate deal to prevent increasingly erratic and extreme weather from further undermining agriculture production.  

“The do-nothing policies of the last few years are not the answer. Recently published research by Oxfam shows that global food prices could more than double in the next 20 years unless governments act now.”

“Oxfam's global Grow Campaign is calling for a transformation in the way we grow and share food so that everyone always has enough to eat.”

For more information go to: www.oxfamamerica.org/grow

Notes to editor

Latest data on global food prices is available on the FAO website at: http://www.fao.org/worldfoodsituation/wfs-home/foodpricesindex/en/

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