Food prices in 'danger zone': World Bank chief

AFP, Thursday 14 Apr 2011

Global food prices have soared 36 percent from a year ago, according to the Bank's food price index released on Thursday

World Bank president Robert Zoellick warned Thursday that rising food prices have reached dangerous heights that pose the biggest threat to the world's poor.

"We are in a danger zone because prices have already gone up; stocks for many commodities are relatively low," Zoellick said.

The World Bank chief called high and volatile food prices "the biggest threat to the poor around the world."

According to the Bank's food price index released Thursday, global food prices have soared 36 percent from a year ago.

The Food Price Watch report estimated that a further 10 percent increase in global prices could drive 10 million more people below the $1.25 a day poverty line.

A 30 percent price spike could lead to an additional 34 million poor, on top of the 44 million people pushed into poverty since June 2010 because of price rises.

The World Bank estimates there are 1.2 billion people living below the poverty line.

The Group of 20 advanced and emerging economies can play "a leading role" in measure to manage price volatility and lessen its impact on the most vulnerable, he said.

Speaking at a news conference at the opening of the Bank's annual spring meetings in Washington together with the International Monetary Fund, Zoellick said he was "pleased" the French presidency of the G20 had made food a top priority.

The G20 finance chiefs open a two-day meeting later Thursday on the sidelines of the IMF-World Bank meetings.

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