World Bank Plea
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) Food Price Index, measuring the market prices of cereals, dairy produce, meat, sugar and oils, was 57 percent higher in March 2008 than a year earlier.
The surge is due to several factors, including increased demand in developing countries, higher fuel costs, drought in Australia, the use of crops for biofuels, and speculation on global commodity markets.
There was at least some short-term easing in prices of key commodities yesterday.
US rice futures fell more than 2.5 percent, deepening a retreat from last week's record high as top exporter Thailand said it would release government stocks for domestic use and traders looked ahead to Asian harvests.
The Thai pledge to release 2.1 million tons of stockpiled rice came a day after a trade official said the country's rice prices were likely to ease by about 20 percent in coming weeks on increased supply from the new domestic crop. Thailand is the world's top rice exporter.
The World Bank called on countries not to ban exports of food, saying that only worsens the problem.
"We are urging countries not to use export bans," World Bank President Robert Zoellick said in a statement. "These controls encourage hoarding, drive up prices and hurt the poorest people around the world who are struggling to feed themselves."
(Chinadaily.com.cn via agencies April 30, 2008)