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Rising food prices - Concern's position

The recent increase in global food prices is having a significant impact on the lives of the poorest people in the world.

Globally, food prices have soared by 40% in the last nine months. Many poor families spend up to 80% of their income on food so even the slightest increase can have devastating effects. There is little prospect that prices will fall significantly in the short term.

Reports from Concern’s staff on the ground indicate that high food prices are having very negative effects, including:

Increases in malnutrition Reduced expenditure on healthcare and education Extremely poor people getting into greater debtSale of important assets such as land, tools and livestock on which people depend to make a living Immediate consumption of the seeds poor families were saving to plant this yearGrowing social unrest in fragile countries

Causes of the crisis

The increases have been caused by many factors, including:

Increased demand for food due to population growth and increased prosperityThe high price of oil increasing the cost of agricultural inputs and transportationThe growing demand for bio-fuelsThe lowest levels of food stocks in decades

Immediate action needed

The root causes of the current crisis will take time to address, but immediate actions can be taken which will mitigate its impacts on the poorest:

The poor need emergency supplies of food or cash with which to buy food. The World Food Programme must receive increased funding of $755 million required to provide essential food aidSupport should be given for cash-based social protection where food aid is considered inappropriateNutritional surveillance in developing countries needs to be given support to achieve the necessary coverage and quality. This is important so that the impacts of the crisis can be identified at a local level, given variations in food accessMany of the world’s poorest are small farmers so they need access to agricultural inputs to grow food for the coming year The US, European Union and other governments should urgently review their policies towards bio-fuels In the longer term, there needs to be a serious re-investment in agriculture and in particular in the food security of the most vulnerable populations of the world

How Concern is responding

Concern is already responding to this crisis. Concern’s nutrition and agricultural programmes on the ground are monitoring the situation and supporting the poorest with projects which enable them to address their short-term needs and increase their income over time.

Read the full-length version of this position paper