Food prices fall to a 5-year low across the globe as conflict, Ebola make Africa an exception

Children gather grain spilled from bags following a food-drop on February 24, 2015 at a village in Nyal in South Sudan's Panyijar county (AFP Photo/Tony Karumba)
Children gather grain spilled from bags following a food-drop on February 24, 2015 at a village in Nyal in South Sudan’s Panyijar county (AFP Photo/Tony Karumba)

Dropping to a five-year low, international food prices decreased by 14% between the period of August 2014 and May 2015, according to Food Price Watch, an agency of the World Bank.

The decline in food prices is welcome, because more poor people can potentially afford to buy food for their families,” said Jose Cuesta, Senior Economist, Poverty Global Practice at the World Bank Group.  “However, unexpected domestic food price fluctuations remain a possibility so it is crucial that countries are prepared to address dangerous food price hikes when and if they unfold.”

The report sai

d, “The agriculture and food sector continue to benefit from less expensive chemical fertilizer, fuel and transportation costs brought on by the previous year’s oil price declines, with food prices holding steady despite recent oil price hikes.”

The report said Wheat prices fell by 18% between August 2014 and May 2015 whereas rice and maize prices dropped by 14% and 6% respectively.

Warning about the ill-effects of El Nino, the report said, ” However, the arrival of El Nino, the appreciation of the US dollar and the recent increase in oil prices could drive up food prices in the coming months.”

Moreover, demand for maize by the biofuel industry and developments in rice support policies among major producers could also push up food prices.

Even though domestic grain prices remained stable due to abundant supply, prices increased in countries hit by conflict, floods or drought, like Nigeria, Malawi and Zimbabwe. Ebola-hit countries were also affected by increase in food prices.

The World Bank said that is trying to help countries suffering from high food prices. Launched in 2008, Global Food Price Crisis Response Program (GFRP) has helped 70 million people in 49 countries through $1.6 billion in emergency funds.


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