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Countries face drop in food access despite global strong harvests | Coastweek

MARALAL (Xinhua) -- Workers transfer relief food in Maralal town, Samburu County. Kenya government declared current drought a national disaster last month which was affecting about 2.7 million people. World Food Program (WFP) plans to distribute relief food to stricken people in Kenya, but the food agency has a 22 million dollar revenue shortfall. XINHUA PHOTO - PAN SIWEI

Countries face drop in food access despite global strong harvests

UNITED NATIONS New York (Xinhua) -- The UN food agency on Thursday reported strong harvests across the globe, but it also warned of drop in food access due to conflicts and droughts in some parts of the world, including Afghanistan, Burundi, South Sudan and Yemen.

Despite robust food supply conditions, droughts are worsening food security across swathes of East Africa, and access to food has been dramatically reduced in areas suffering civil conflicts, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) said in its new report "Crop Prospects and Food Situation," which was released on Thursday.

"It shows that global harvests are strong, with cereal production making large strong gains in the world overall in 2016, a record recovery in Central America, and larger cereal crops in Asia, Europe and North America," UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said at a daily news briefing here.

"However, access to food has been dramatically reduced in areas suffering civil conflicts, and drought conditions are worsening across parts of East Africa," he said.

Thirty-seven countries require external assistance for food, with 28 of them in Africa, he added.

In South Sudan, 100,000 people were facing famine in Leer and Mayendit Counties, part of former Unity state. Overall, about 4.9 million people across the country were classified as facing crisis, emergency or famine.

In Yemen, 17 million people, or two-thirds of the population, are estimated to be food insecure.

The report noted that "the risk of famine declaration in the country is very high."

In northern Nigeria, 8.1 million people are facing acute food insecurity conditions, and in Somalia, an estimated 2.9 million people have been severely food insecure from six months ago.

Conflicts and civil unrest in Afghanistan, Burundi, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Myanmar and Syria are also exacerbating food insecurity conditions for millions of people as well as affecting nearby countries hosting refugees, said the report.

Cereal production made quite strong gains in the world overall in 2016, with a record recovery in Central America, and larger cereal crops in Asia, Europe and North America.

Prospects are favourable for the 2017 maize crop in Brazil and Argentina and the outlook is generally positive for coarse grains throughout the Southern Hemisphere.

Prospects for rice are mixed, but it is still too early to make firm predictions for many of the world’s major crops.

Maize harvests in Southern Africa, slashed by El Nino, are forecast to recover this year, with South Africa’s output expected to increase by more than 50 per cent from 2016.

Although FAO’s first global wheat production forecast for 2017 points to a 1.8 percent decline from last year’s record level, that is due mostly to a projected 20 percent output drop in the United States.
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UPDATE:

Food and Agriculture Organization warns food emergencies likely to increase

ROME Italy (Xinhua) -- Global food supply conditions are robust but access to food has been dramatically reduced in areas suffering civil conflicts and drought, UN food agency FAO warned Thursday in a report.

"This is an unprecedented situation. Never before have we been faced with four threats of famine in multiple countries simultaneously," said FAO Assistant Director-General Kostas Stamoulis.

According to the new edition of FAO’s Crop Prospects and Food Situation report, some 37 countries require external assistance for food, 28 of which in Africa as a result of lingering effects of last year’s El Nino-triggered droughts.

Protracted fighting and unrest is increasing the ranks of the displaced and hungry in other parts of the world, it said.

Agricultural production is expected to rebound in southern Africa. At the same time, famine has been formally declared in South Sudan and the food security situation is of grave concern in northern Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen.

Conflicts and civil unrest in Afghanistan, Burundi, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Myanmar and Syria are also exacerbating food insecurity conditions for millions of people as well affecting nearby countries hosting refugees.

The drought in East Africa in late 2016 has heightened food insecurity in several countries in the sub-region, the report added.

"It demands swift action which should consist of immediate food assistance but also livelihood support to ensure that such situations are not repeated," Stamoulis added.
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EARLIER REPORT:

World food prices edge higher in February say Food and Agriculture Organization

ROME Italy (Xinhua) -- The Food Price Index rose slightly in February, marking its seventh consecutive monthly rise, according to data released by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Thursday.

The FAO Food Price Index averaged 175.5 points in February, its highest value in almost two years, marking a 0.5 percent increase from its revised January value and 17.2 percent above its February 2016 level.

Cereal price rose 2.5 percent from January, because of increasing prices for wheat, even as maize and rice prices also posted modest increases.

Meat price also went up, rising 1.1 percent, buoyed by higher bovine meat prices as ranchers in Australia rebuilt their herds.

Sugar price rose 0.6 percent in February, as ongoing supply tightness in Brazil was only partly offset by expanded beet plantings in the European Union.

And dairy price saw a slight increase led by butter and whole milk powder.

Vegetable oil price bucked the trend, declining 4.1 percent amid slowing global import demand for palm oil along with higher soy crop forecasts for Brazil and Argentina, two important exporting countries.

The next installment of the FAO index, which is based on a basket of 55 goods and 73 price quotations in five major food commodity groups, will be released on April 6.

             

 

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