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December 6, 2021

UN food chief warns high and volatile prices here to stay

The body urges G20 action in this issue. Also, any decisions on action are unlikely before a mid-September report on grain supply, officials have said.

High and volatile food prices are here to stay and countries need to ensure they have sufficient stockpiles, the head of the United Nations food agency said on Monday, theglobeandmail.com reports. “Food prices will remain elevated and will be highly volatile in the next 10 years,” Food and Agricultural Organization chief Jose Graziano da Silva said in an interview with the French daily Le Monde. “To ensure food security and face up to higher prices, each country should ensure they have stocks to cover their needs for between a week and a month,” he added. The FAO’s Food Price Index, a monthly measure of changes in a basket of food commodities, shot up six per cent in July, with drought sending prices of corn and wheat soaring.Furthermore, the world’s top farm producers in the Group of 20 countries must agree coordinated action to ease worries about food prices, according to news.terra.com. The third price surge in four years has come after drought in the United states and poor crops from Russia and the Black Sea bread basket region. Senior figures from the G20 will discuss the food price rises this week, but any decisions on action are unlikely before a mid-September report on grain supply, officials have said.Jose Graziano Da Silva said he would not characterize the current food price rise as a crisis, but it could reach that level next year if harvests in the southern hemisphere were disappointing.  The annual World Water Week conference looks at how resources are used and the link between water and food security. Also, da Silva said any coordination should involve avoiding unilateral export bans and encouraging substitution of foods, for instance the eating of beans in Latin American and of casava in Africa. He noted that between 85 and 95 percent of the crops most affected by the price rises, wheat and corn, came from the G20. He said that even if wheat prices rose 10 to 20 percent that did not mean bread prices would rise by the same amount.Da Silva noted that the food price rally was not as serious as in 2007/08, when there were violent protests in countries including Egypt, Cameroon and Haiti. He also mentioned that there was also a massive waste of food in the world, an issue that needed to be resolved in order better to harness resources. “Up to half of the food we produce never gets eaten,” said Torgny Holmgren, executive director of the Stockholm International Water Institute. A quarter of the water used worldwide was used to produce more than one billion metric tons of food that nobody eats, he said.Da Silva continued saying that water security was a vital factor for food security and that food needed to be produced in a way that conserved water, used it more sustainably and intelligently, and helped agriculture adapt to climate change. “We need to produce more with less,” he added.

Romania might thrive from agriculture

Specialists are claiming Romania could thrive through agriculture, the head of the Employers’ Confederation in Industry, Services and Commerce, Adrian Izvoranu, told Realitatea TV. He believes that in Romania there should be a programme free of political influence, for helping agriculture recover. ‘If there was such thing, we could be back on our feet in ten years’ time’, said Adrian Izvoranu, who noted that this country has neglected the issues regarding demographic growth, as well as climate changes. ‘On the long run, the evolution of prices for anything that means fossil energy will grow, but Romania has resources. We need long term policies, with massive investment. New programmes should start right now’, Izvoranu also said. Another crucial thing is for us to work on restoring our irrigation infrastructure. ‘We need initiative, a restored irrigation system, measures helping us capture water in summer,’ Adrian Radulescu also said.

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