Food prices and food aid

Food prices are rising and this is putting increasing pressure on food aid, according to the United Nations, and reported in yesterday’s Guardian. That report, which has a list of food hotspots, says:

“We will have a problem in coming months,” said Josette Sheeran, the head of the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP). “We will have a significant gap if commodity prices remain this high, and we will need an extra half billion dollars just to meet existing assessed needs.”

With voluntary contributions from the world’s wealthy nations, the WFP feeds 73 million people in 78 countries, less than a 10th of the total number of the world’s undernourished. Its agreed budget for 2008 was $2.9bn (£1.5bn). But with annual food price increases around the world of up to 40% and dramatic hikes in fuel costs, that budget is no longer enough even to maintain current food deliveries.

In a BBC TV news report yesterday the UN stressed that there is enough food to feed the world but increased wealth in developing countries is helping to increase demand for crops to feed food animals and also the use of grain for biofuels is helping to drive costs up. At least in the short term.

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