United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon arrives at a UN crisis summit on rising food prices at the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Rome June 3, 2008.(Xinhua/Reuters Photo)
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon mapped out a twin-track strategy to tackle soaring food prices as world leaders opened a three-day summit in Rome on Tuesday in a global response to the food crisis.
"You all know about the severity and scale of the global food crisis. Before this emergency, more than 850 million people in the world were short of food," Ban told the summit, hosted by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
The high-level conference comes as the world is experiencing a dramatic increase in food prices.
Agricultural commodity prices rose sharply in the past two years and continued to rise even more sharply in the first three months of 2008, with foodstuffs such as rice, corn and wheat all reaching record highs, sparking riots in many countries and worsening the situation of the 850 million people already affected by chronic hunger.
A joint report by the FAO and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) warned last week that food prices were expected to remain high over the next decade even if they would ease from their recent peaks.