World Food Day, which happens every year on 16th October, is intended to focus attention on global hunger.
euronews spoke to Hafez Ghanem, an Assistant Director-General with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation.
“Mister Ghanem there has been a noticeable surge in the price of cereals over the last few months – about 60 per cent for wheat and 40 per cent for maize. And yet supply and demand is still stable – how do you explain that?”
Hafez Ghanem, FAO:
“Prices began to take-off at the end of July with the heatwave in Russia. The drought caused a drop in Russian production and as you know Russia is one of the biggest wheat exporters.
“There were also certain political decisions. For example the restriction on Russian exports and finally, last week, there was an announcement of a drop in production in the United States which has affected wheat and maize.
“But you are also right, on a global level, supply and demand today is pretty much in balance – particularly because the year began with stockpiles relatively high.”
“Exactly which are the main countries, and peoples, affected by these soaring prices?”
“It is always the poorest, the most vulnerable who have to import their basic foodstuffs, particularly in Africa and Asia.
“Today in the world, 16 percent of the population are malnourished, 30 percent of the population of Africa.
“We hope now, in a roundabout way, that it could have a positive effect, if this rise in price encourages producers – particularly in developing countries – to produce more, to improve their productivity.”
“Regarding the world financial crisis now….”
“There are two impacts. The first is the direct impact of the crisis on household income – above all the poorest households – which is down to a drop in economic activity; a fall in employment. And that has led to, along with the drop in income, a rise in poverty and hunger. Last year – 2009 – the number of people in the world suffering from hunger hit one billion – that was due to this financial crisis but also the relatively high price of staple foods.”