News24

Food costs pushing millions into poverty

2011-04-15 13:23

Washington - Soaring food and energy prices, still-fragile financial systems and continued tensions between the United States and China over trade and currency issues will all be on the agenda at meetings over the next three days of global finance officials.

World Bank President Robert Zoellick said on Thursday that food prices are 36% higher than they were a year ago and already have pushed 44 million people into poverty.

He called on major countries to do more to help poor countries meet the challenge of feeding their populations at a time of surging prices.

Finance ministers and central bank presidents of the Group of 20 major industrial countries were involved in talks that began on Thursday on ways to address the food crisis and to better co-ordinate their economic policies.

Zoellick cited a new World Bank study that showed that another 10% increase in global food prices could drive an additional 10 million people into extreme poverty.

That would be in addition to the 44 million people who have been driven into poverty since June because of soaring food prices. The World Bank estimates there are about 1.2 billion people living below the poverty line of $1.25 per day.

Support for north Africa

"We have to put food first and protect the poor and vulnerable, who spend most of their money on food," Zoellick said at a briefing to preview the upcoming finance meetings.

Those discussions began on Thursday with talks first among finance officials of the world's seven wealthiest countries - the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Canada and Italy.

Those countries were joined later by finance officials from the Group of 20 nations, which include not only the traditional economic powers but fast-growing emerging economies, including China, India and Brazil.

French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde and US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner also led a discussion on how the major economies could provide support in the Middle East and North Africa following a change of governments in Tunisia and Egypt.

In a joint statement issued after those talks, Geithner and Lagarde said the goal of the major economies would be to work with major financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and World Bank to support economic growth that would benefit a broader group of people in Egypt and Tunisia.

"We recognise that these transitions are about expanding the freedoms and opportunities of people," Geithner and Lagarde said.

Joint statement

They said a joint action plan would be developed with early recommendations coming in May to support "inclusive and sustained growth, transparency and improved governance".

After a dinner on Thursday night, the G-20 discussions were to continue on Friday, led by Lagarde. France is head of the G-20 this year. The group is expected to issue a joint statement of goals at the end of Friday's discussions.

The G-20 talks will be focused on making more progress on a set of economic indicators that the group can use to gauge whether countries are pursuing the correct policies to prevent the growth of dangerous imbalances in trade and government debt which contributed to the last financial crisis.

The United States is pushing for the indicators to be set up, hoping they can be used to bring more pressure on China to allow its currency to rise in value against the dollar as a way to narrow the huge trade gap that exists between China and the US.

However, Chinese officials do not want the rebalancing process to be used as a way to attack China's currency policies, and it was unclear whether any progress will be made during the Washington talks.

But the United States hoped to gain support from other G-20 nations, especially given the group's pledge to put in place policies to guard against a repeat of the past economic crisis at a time when the global economy remains fragile.

Risks to recovery

"There are lots of things to worry about and we want to make sure we don't fall back into another crisis as we did not that long ago," Canadian Finance Minister James Flaherty told reporters.

The finance meetings will wrap up on Saturday with meetings of the policy-setting committees of the 187-nation International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank that will discuss issues involving their institutions.

IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn said that while the global economy began growing again last year after the most severe downturn since World War II, there still were multiple risks to the recovery from rising energy costs to continuing debt problems in Europe and new inflation dangers coming from China and other fast-growing emerging economies.

"The recovery is getting stronger but ... it is not the recovery we want because it is still imbalanced," Strauss-Kahn told reporters. "We must be aware of complacency, and we need urgent action."


Comments
  • kingswing69 - 2011-04-15 13:42

    same thing is happening here , but when the govt introduce the toll gates , everything will go up food , petrol . basically everything you need to survive , great going Govt

  • daaivark - 2011-04-15 13:45

    It doesn't require any experts to point this out. One look around you and wham, it's obvious.

  • logical007 - 2011-04-15 13:45

    "Support for north Africa" - Once again - 'Black countries' want the help of the white people. They run the country into the ground, and expect white run countries to bail them out... heaven forbid the white run country try and teach them how to run their country - oh that would be trying to take over or labled racism of some form. 'Just give'

      daaivark - 2011-04-15 14:34

      Grow up.

      piet.strydom - 2011-04-15 15:01

      The other side of the coin, is that the rich world is subsidising their farmers with $1 000 000 000 per DAY. Now if the rich world took that $360 billion artificial advantage their farmers enjoy away, it would dwarf the $80 billion in so-called aid that they currently give. And I use "so-called" deliberately, because usually when aid is given to starving countries, it comes with the proviso that the money must be used to buy grain from the donor country. That once again reinforcing the cycle. As I said, it does not mean the poor countries have no part in their woes, but be honest and fair in your criticism.

      piet.strydom - 2011-04-15 15:02

      sorry, daily amount should be $1 billion, What I have show is one trillion.

  • ian.d.samson - 2011-04-15 13:58

    Profiteering by retailers greedy for the last cent in profits. If retailers could set their financial avarice aside and concentrate on the common good, we may see prices settle more realistically.

      Margaret2 - 2011-04-15 14:22

      And what about their shareholders, many of whom may be pensioners?

      steve - 2011-04-15 14:39

      I agree Ian,as for shareholders, stock markets actually were the cause of the economic crises and then came the oil price increase and all other commodities followed suit,only the super wealthy benefit from stock markets,they are well disguised casinos where we are just puppets in their play,if the oil price does'nt retreat we will be seeing blood on the streets,pensioners should rather put money into krugerands.

      piet.strydom - 2011-04-15 15:04

      The amount of profits that supermarket chains make might be large, but the percentages are very low. Food delivery to the masses has never been so efficient and reliable in the history of man-kind.

      sceptic - 2011-04-15 15:57

      I SUPPOSE RETAILERS SHOULD KEEP THEIR PRICES THE SAME AMID RISING COSTS LIKE BANK CHARGES AND FUEL PRICES!! REMEMBER THAT RETAILERS ARE HARDWORKING INDIVIDUALS WHO ACTUALLY SUPPLY A SERVICE TO THE COMMUNITY IN TERMS OF DISTRIBUTION OF FOOD. IMAGINE HOW FAR YOU WOULD HAVE TO DRIVE TO SHOP IF YOU DID NOT HAVE RETAILERS SCATTERRED ALL OVER!! YOU WOULD HAVE TO GROW MUCH OF YOUR OWN PRODUCE AND PROBABLY TAKE UP CRAFTS TO DRESS YOURSELF!! SO THE QUESTION ACTUALLY YOU SHOULD ASK IS WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITHOUT YOUR RETAILERS?? EVERYONE IS ALLOWED TO MAKE PROFIT!!

  • steve - 2011-04-15 14:00

    The price of oil should be controlled, not by the cartel but a watchdog as this is where all rising costs begin, they reckon at $50 per barrel they are making huge bucks, I find this type of greed damaging to the rest of the world, as the poor grow poorer and a few fat cats rake in the mountains of dollars, at our expense.

      ktr679 - 2011-04-15 14:35

      Our fuel price is controlled - by Govt. Up 20c/l down 5c/l plus 10c/l in tax etc. The Road Accident Fund gets +/- 90c/l but is R 42 billion IN DEBT. Where is this money going? I know 2 people whow have claims over 5-years old that have lost their houses due to claims not being settled - ans both are under 500k each for disability to their bread-winners.

      steve - 2011-04-15 14:43

      I'm talking about oil price being controlled worldwide,not by our gov.

      piet.strydom - 2011-04-15 15:06

      Oil is running out. The advantage we are getting from the high prices, is that the alternative methods get time to be developed. The only reason the price is so high, is because there is so little of it.

  • Madelane - 2011-04-15 14:53

    No fear...at least the food industry giants are getting ever fatter as they feed off their captive market......only politicians and the financial sector match them for sheer dishonesty, greed and lack of morals.

  • KC Coleman - 2011-04-15 14:56

    Is it time that they deregulate oil and take it off stock exchnages so that petrol can go up nominally every year??? This will stop all the GREEDY countries, suppliers and my favourite swearword, the shareholders.

  • steve - 2011-04-15 15:11

    They only tell you it's running out,it's been proven their are vast oil reserves for at least the next 100 years,but we have to break away from it,as it's causing devastation on the eco system.

  • Yasr - 2011-04-15 15:19

    logic, no man. King, what they talking about effects us, toll roads aside, its a global market. We will feel it six love near the end of the year, especially since we fixed our i-rates. Plus when released our i-rate will at least double to curb the inflation. Global oil prices, what can you do? (East is East - And West sells at massive premiums). Definitely not give in to Hydraulic Fracturing pressures, (or we will end up buying our water from Walmart). Steve, I agree, for everyone the stockmarket was the crisis (Derivatives are a spawn of the devil). Ktr69 - The raod accident fund pays out a max of R20 0000, at least since that German tourist milked it a few years back. Peace.

  • sceptic - 2011-04-15 15:46

    www.thezeitgeistmovement.com This is all explained!! go watch and judge for yourself!! SEE THE TRUTH!! SEE HOW THE BANKS HAVE PLANNED THIS FROM THE BEGINNING AND OPEN YOUR EYES TO A GLOBAL SCANDAL!! JFK WAS TALKING ABOUT THIS IN HIS FINAL ADDRESS TO THE NATION AND LOOK WHAT HAPPENNED TO HIM!!

      gekko - 2011-04-15 15:54

      Dont believe everything you google idiot!

      sceptic - 2011-04-15 16:01

      DID NOT GOOGLE IT YOU IDIOT!! THEN AGAIN, YOU PROBABLY HAVE NOT WATCHED THE MOVIE YET?? WWW.THEZEITGEISTMOVEMENT.COM JUDGE FOR YOURSELF.........

      bekommerdeouers - 2011-04-15 16:09

      Jayzuz Churist! Are you serious!? Do you walk around with tinfoil wrapped around your head - yisis! The gullibility of some people...this is si old and have been debunked long ago - idiot!

  • bekommerdeouers - 2011-04-15 16:06

    Well, with the mass exodus of our farmers, expect it to get worse...much, much worse...

  • Mike - 2011-05-20 09:01

    Where are all our farmers,Chased of the land??farming they say is a dangerous job in south Africa. Subsistence farming is not going to go far here.

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