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High food prices continue to hurt the poor, FAO

afrol News, 16 July - The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has warned in a report released today, that despite a drop in international food prices and good cereal harvests overall, prices in developing countries remain high, and continue to hurt millions of poor people in both rural and urban areas.

In several countries, current prices exceed last year’s highs or stand at record levels, according to the “Crop Prospects and Food Situation” report.

In 27 sub-Saharan African nations, FAO found that 80 to 90 percent of all cereal prices remain over 25 percent higher than before the food price crisis two years ago.

“The high food price situation continues to give rise to concern for the food security of vulnerable populations in both urban and rural areas, as these groups spend a large share of their incomes on food,” the publication said.

The report mentioned for instance that in Sudan, prices of sorghum, a type of grain, were three times higher in June than they were two years ago. In Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia, maize prizes have doubled, while in Southern Africa, they have dropped recently due to a bumper harvest but remain above pre-2007 levels, added the report.

Spurring continued high prices in poorer nations are reduced harvests, higher or delayed imports, civil conflicts, strong demand in neighbouring countries, devalued national currencies, and higher transport costs, among other factors, said FAO.

Although global cereal production will decline by 3 percent this year from 2008, which saw the largest harvest ever, the report said that the outlook for world cereal supply and demand is satisfactory.

It also cautioned that 30 countries around the globe are in crisis and require assistance due to natural disasters, insecurity and economic problems.

FAO’s Rome headquarters will host a World Food Summit in November to further success towards eradicating hunger and improving governance of the international agricultural system.

Hiking prices for food have been said to be threatening the stability of many poor countries especially in the sub-Saharan Africa.

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