The Soar of Food PricesNews detail:
Increasing staple food prices over the last months are a major challenge for the food security situation of many countries all over the world. Food prices in Cambodia increased by over 24 percent from January 2007 to January 2008 and have been further spiraling upwards during the first three months of 2008. However, the recent measures taken by the Government to slow down speculation (rice export ban and selling of parts of the government rice reserve at lower price) have shown an at least temporarily effect.
Cambodia as a nation produces a large rice surplus of over 2 Million tons and is a net rice exporter but at the household level many households have to buy rice to cover the total of their consumption needs also in rural areas. On average 71% of expenditures of a Cambodian household is already spent on food. The rapid increase of food prices hits above all the poor and food insecure population as they have little room to expand the food part in their expenditures. Reduced food intake and/or a switch to foods that have lower nutritional value and lack important micronutrients as well as indebtedness and sell of productive assets may therefore be cooping strategies negatively affecting the nutritional status and long-term food security of people.
The recent food price increase is a complex worldwide phenomenon linked to increased income and food demand of emerging economies, high agricultural input and transport prices (due to raising fuel prices), general underinvestment in agriculture and related research, adverse affects of climate change on food production, alternative use of agricultural land for bio-fuel production, low food stocks level and last not least the escalating speculation in food commodity markets more, see report from IFPRI on world food situation. However, the specific causes and consequences of rising prices of basic food items on poor people need to be carefully taken into consideration at each country level and short term measures as well as medium term policies to mitigate effects of the global trend requires to be designed and implemented.
FAO launched recently a globally "Initiative of Soaring Food Prices" (ISFP) and a FAO/WFP Inter-Agency Consultation & Identification Mission is currently in Cambodia to assist the Government in identifying short term key food access and consumption challenges and its possible impacts on the nutrition and social welfare situation as well as medium and longer term activities to assist small and vulnerable farmers to increase food production. IFSP aims at mitigating the food access and consumption crises through a bundle of interventions, policies and programs to improve producer access to inputs and the expansion of social safety nets to the poorest and most vulnerable more, see TOR of ISFP mission. Subsequent to the current identification mission a stakeholder programing workshop (phase 2) and a multidisciplinary formulation mission (phase 3) will be organized to come up with an "ISFP action plan", which needs to be integrated into existing national programmes and policies.
As the information platform on food security and nutrition in Cambodia, FSNIS would like to inform interested audience on the very important issue of rising food prices, its causes and effects as well as upcoming initiatives (like FAO's ISFP) and related policies, plans and programmes on a regular basis. This includes the presentation of data, relevant documents and news on specific events and policy discussions. We would specifically invite all institutions and organizations involved in analyzing the current food price situation or preparing strategies and actions to counteract the causes and effects of soaring food prices to use FSNIS as a dissemination platform.
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