Media Worried about AGW Effect on Coffee. When Will they Start Talking about Food?
October 20, 2011
JOHANNESBURG, 17 October 2011 (IRIN) – In the past four years, global prices of staples such as maize and wheat have twice hit record levels, driving hundreds of thousands of the world’s most vulnerable people further towards hunger and poverty.
It is the poorest people in the poorest countries who are most affected by the high price of staple foods.
Recent responses to high prices have increasingly tended to focus on reducing price volatility – sharp fluctuations in food prices.
Sudden weather events like the drought in Russia in 2010, which destroyed wheat crops and in part triggered the spike in wheat prices that year, are another major factor, said George Rapsomanikis, an economist with FAOs Market and Trade Division.
Wright believes that oil prices and government policy on biofuels, not just in the USA and Europe but also in Africa and Latin America, will continue to be major determinants of food price behaviour in the future.
Low stocks of staples “made markets unusually sensitive to subsequent shocks such as high petroleum prices, the Australian drought [in 2006] and other regional production problems,” Wright said in a recent paper.