17 December 2007, Rome – FAO is urging governments and the international community to implement immediate measures in support of poor countries hit hard by dramatic food price increases.
Currently 37 countries worldwide are facing food crises due to conflict and disasters. In addition, food security is being adversely affected by unprecedented price hikes for basic food, driven by historically low food stocks, droughts and floods linked to climate change, high oil prices and growing demand for bio-fuels. High international cereal prices have already sparked food riots in several countries. In its November issue of Food Outlook, FAO estimated that the total cost of imported foodstuffs for Low Income Food Deficit Countries (LIFDCs) in 2007 would be some 25 percent higher than the previous year, surpassing US$ 107 billion.
“Urgent and new steps are needed to prevent the negative impacts of rising food prices from further escalating and to quickly boost crop production in the most affected countries,” said FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf at a press conference at the Organization’s Rome headquarters.
“Without support for poor farmers and their families in the hardest-hit countries, they will not be able to cope. Assisting poor vulnerable households in rural areas in the short term and enabling them to produce more food would be an efficient tool to protect them against hunger and undernourishment,” Dr Diouf added.
FAO will support a catalytic model programme in close cooperation with the private sector. At the same time, FAO aims to assist countries in mobilising resources required to strengthen their productive capability, market access and other measures required for long-term household food security.