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f_0010080_7827 - The Global Food Crisis and Beyond Jacques...

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Fall 2008 The Ambassadors REVIEW 13 The Global Food Crisis and Beyond Jacques Diouf, Ph.D. Director-General, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations n recent weeks, the focus of international attention shifted from the plight of the poor and hungry to the financial and economic meltdown threatening the world’s rich countries. But this should not divert the international community from the priority of resolving the continuing global food security crisis caused by soaring food prices in 2007- 2008. The situation remains profound and requires an immediate, comprehensive, coherent and coordinated global response. Last year, mainly because of rising food prices, 75 million people tumbled below the breadline and millions more have probably joined them in 2008. This means that there could be now nearly one billion people in the world suffering from chronic hunger—one in every six human beings. It also means that we are moving away from the first of the international community’s Millennium Development Goals, which was to halve, by 2015, the proportion of people suffering from hunger. Unless urgent and resolute action is taken, that commit- ment seems destined to remain another empty promise, just like the now almost forgotten 1974 World Food Conference undertaking that within a decade no child would go to bed hungry. Obviously, this does little for the credibility of the international community. But this is no time for finger-pointing or recrimination. It is instead time to take the steps required to honor the promises of the past to meet the challenges of the future and to seize the opportunities that the present may offer. In the spring of 2008, with improved production prospects, the prices of many agricultural commodities started to soften from their record highs. By the autumn, wheat futures had gone from over US$ 13 per bushel to roughly US$ 7 per bushel, while maize had dropped from nearly US$ 8 per bushel to almost US$ 4 per bushel. Prices of other important foodstuffs such as vegetable oils, oilseeds or dairy products also dipped. But that doesn’t mark the end of the crisis. In shops and markets around the world, food prices remained out of reach for poor people, with the FAO food price index registering twice its 2002 level. One reason was that retailers were still selling supplies purchased at maximum prices earlier in the season, but also the fact that the cost of food reflects margins of the local intermediaries and the impact of high transportation costs. Food is expected to remain expensive for years to come.
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f_0010080_7827 - The Global Food Crisis and Beyond Jacques...

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