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44 million extremely poor suffer as food prices soar

Amid soaring global food prices, World Bank chief Robert Zoellick is calling on the Group of 20 leading and emerging economies to put food first on its agenda.

"Even before these latest price hikes, there were already more than 900 million people going hungry each day. Now, with an estimated 44 million more people living in extreme poverty, it shows this year is shaping up to be a very tough year for the chronically malnourished."

"If this trend continues, if we don't get a relief on the weather side, then I foresee conditions getting worse. And, mistaken policy actions such as export bans and other types of price controls will just exacerbate the problem."

See VoA’s report here

Zoellick believes high and unstable prices are likely to be a long-term trend, in part because of the rising demand for biofuels and the growing appetite for meat in developing countries.

See The Guardian's 2007 feature on biofuels and food here.

The emerging and growing global middle class - especially in China and India - is consuming more meat and other foods, driving prices. See Foreign Policy's analysis here.

However, the policies of governments are also having a huge impact on their citizens' access to food.

See earlier posts (Nov 2010) on Sri Lanka's peculiar policies on food:

Sri Lanka wages war on ‘wheat terror’

Food for thought