The World Bank projects that the number of chronically hungry people around the world will reach 1 billion by the end of this year, due to a relentless rise in food prices. “The trends towards the 1bn are worrisome,” World Bank President Robert Zoellick said. “Global food prices are rising to dangerous levels. The price hike is already pushing millions of people into poverty and putting stress on the most vulnerable, who spend more than half of their income on food.”The Financial Times reports:
The number of chronically hungry people surpassed 1bn – about one in six people on the planet – for the first time two years ago. Before that crisis, there were some 850m chronically hungry people in the world, a level that has been about constant since the early 1980s.
Mr Zoellick said the current rise in food prices, coming so soon after the 2007-08 crisis, suggested the world was not dealing with a “one-time event”. Rather, long-term demand was likely to keep upward pressures on prices for “years to come”, he said.
The prices of wheat, corn and soyabeans over the past few days have hit 30-month highs after a string of bad harvests, export restrictions, extremely low inventories and soaring demand in emerging countries and for bio-energy in the US and Europe. But officials are drawing comfort from relatively stable prices for rice, one of the two most important farm commodities for global food security and the staple for 3bn Asian people.
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