India, Pakistan suffer highest food price inflation

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London, Nov 4: India, Pakistan, China, Russia and Latin America were the worst affected countries due to rising food price inflation triggered by a global food crisis, a top UN agency said.

According to UN Food and Agricultural Organisation soaring prices of food items worldwide is leading to political instability all across the globe.

''Food riots in India, Yemen and Mexico, warnings of hunger in Jamaica, Nepal, the Philippines and sub-Saharan Africa, empty shelves in Caracas have been witnessed in the recent past which was not seen in decades of low global food commodity prices,'' a report by the UN FAO said.

A rise of more than 10 per cent is recorded in India and Russia while food price has inflated by 18 per cent in China, 13 per cent in Pakistan and Indonesia, according to the UN agency.

Meanwhile, there is shortage of beef, chicken and milk in the countries as governments try to keep a lid on food price inflation, it added.

Reports say that there are 854 million hungry people in the world and 4 million more join their ranks every year.

Wheat has doubled in price, maize is nearly 50 per cent higher than a year ago and rice is 20 per cent more expensive, the UN said.

FAO claimed that global food reserves were at their lowest in 25 years and prices would remain high for years.

Moreover, any natural disaster such as a drought or flood might lead to an international crisis.

The price rise is a fallout of record oil prices, US farmers switching out of cereals to grow biofuel crops, extreme weather and growing demand from countries like India and China, the FAO said.

Last week, Russian companies were forced to freeze the price of milk, bread and other foods until January 31, for fear of a public backlash with a parliamentary election looming.

Boycotts have become commonplace. Argentinians shunned tomatoes during the recent presidential election campaign when they became more expensive than meat. Italians organised a one-day boycott of pasta in protest at rising prices. German leftwing politicians have called for an increase in welfare benefits so that people can cope with price rises.

''If you combine the increase of the oil prices and the increase of food prices then you have the elements of a very serious social crisis in the future,'' The Guardian quoted FAO head Jacques Diouf as saying.

The agro-industry shift to profitable biofuels could further worsen the situation resulting in serious implications for the demand for food, International Monetary Fund revealed.

According to the research by Barcelona-based food resources group. Grain, the steps taken by countries intending to grow biofuels in the next few years would force millions of people off the land.

The food crisis is being compounded by growing populations, extreme weather and ecological stress, according to a number of recent reports.

Experts, however, are optimistic about the precarious food supply balance in coming years. There are hopes that new crop varieties and technologies would help crops adapt to climactic conditions. And if Vegetarianism and controlling population growth would ease pressures on the food market, while the cultivation of hitherto unproductive land could also help supply.

UNI

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