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Global food prices expected to remain high: FAO

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Food prices

Global food prices are expected to remain high and volatile in the next 12 months, United Nation's body Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has said.

"The prices will remain high compared with the other years, previous years, and the volatility will also be very high," FAO's first Latin American Director General Jose Graziano da Silva said in a statement.

Brazil's Da Silva, who took charge as the head of FAO from Senegal's Jacques Diouf, said the food crisis in some parts of the world is one of his biggest challenges.

World food prices had hit a record all-time high in February 2011, raising concerns over the repeat of the 2008 food crisis.

The FAO's Food Price Index (FPI) stood at 215 points in November 2011, 23 points or 10% below its peak in February 2011 (238 points), but two points or 1% above its level in November 2010.

FPI is a measure of the monthly change in international prices of cereals, oilseeds, dairy products, meat and sugar.

"The ongoing food crisis will be among the biggest challenges we will face during the next 12 months and the food crisis in regions of West Africa would be a key target of FAO's programmes," he added.

According to FAO's latest estimates, 33 countries around the world are in need of external assistance as a result of crop failures, conflict or insecurity, natural disasters and high domestic food prices.

Hunger eradication is first of five strategic priorities for the global body on agriculture sector, Da Silva, who also served as a senior regional official for FAO since 2006, said.

The other priorities are sustainable food production and consumption, greater fairness in global food management and conclusion of FAO's organisational reform to improve efficiency, transparency and accountability and expansion of partnerships and South-South cooperation, he added.

The new FAO chief also called for a concerted effort from all quarters to fight hunger.

"Ending hunger requires the commitment of everyone, neither FAO nor any other agency or government will win this war alone," he said.

Equal efforts are required from member countries, United Nations agencies, the private sector, civil society and other stakeholders, he added.

Da Silva assumed office on Sunday. His term will expire on July 31, 2015, but he will be eligible to run for a second, four-year term.

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First Published: Wed, January 04 2012. 14:59 IST