World Food Day

World Food Day

On October 16 World Food Day will be celebrated. This year's theme will be Food prices, from crisis to stability. Price swings, upswings in particular, represent a major threat to food security in developing countries. Hardest-hit are the poor.

According to the World Bank, in 2010-2011 rising food costs pushed nearly 70 million people into extreme poverty.
The theme of World Food Day 2011, has been chosen to shed some light on this trend and what can be done to mitigate its impact on the most vulnerable.
On World Food Day 2011, let us look seriously at what causes swings in food prices, and do what needs to be done to reduce their impact on the weakest members of global society.

In his message, the Director General of FAO, Jacques Diouf, explains how the theme of prices: « has been chosen as this year's World Food Day theme to shed some light on a trend that is hurting the poor consumer, the small producer and agriculture in general. Food prices, which were stable for decades, have become increasingly volatile ».

« If we are to seriously address the issue of world hunger, he says, more effort has to be made to address the problem of food price fluctuations, particularly for those who spend most of their incomes on food, to ensure that they can return from the market with enough for their families to eat nutritiously ».

Besides reflecting on the causes of price instability, Jacques Diouf, asks for greater International political commitment since: « At the level of net food-importing countries, price rises can hurt poor countries by making it much more expensive for them to import food for their people. Farmers are also affected because they badly need to know, months away, the price their crops will fetch at harvest time. If high prices are likely, they plant more. If low prices are forecast, they plant less and cut costs. Rapid price swings make that calculation much more difficult.
Greater policy coordination in international food trade can reduce volatility by helping maintain an assured flow of goods. FAO supports the elimination of trade-distorting agricultural subsidies in rich countries ».

Besides interventions at structural level, FAO states that greater transparency is needed in trade on futures markets.

« On World Food Day 2011, the message concludes, let us reflect seriously on what causes swings in food prices, and articulate alternatives on what needs to be done at national, regional and global levels to reduce the impact on almost a billion people who do not have enough to eat ».

For further information, visit the FAO website

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