The cost of basic food commodities has doubled over the past couple of years, with some prices hitting their highest levels in three decades. The leaders of more than 40 countries are in Rome to discuss the various factors contributing to the crisis. The World Bank is warning that higher food prices are pushing some 30 million Africans into poverty.
Emerging nations have steeply increased their daily calorie intake over the past 30 years, consuming more meat and putting more pressure on land. Bad weather resulting in poor harvests has also had a big impact. A fall in supply from exporting countries has pushed up demand around the world.
And then there is the controversial issue of biofuels. Between 20 and 50 percent of all the colza and maize grown globally goes into the production of fuel, representing one percent of all cultivated land.
The surge in the price of oil is another cause, making producing, harvesting and transporting food all the more expensive.