Food prices at ‘dangerous’ levels: World Bank

Washington, DC: The World Bank said on February 15 food prices have hit “dangerous levels” that could contribute to political instability, push millions of people into poverty and raise the cost of groceries.

The bank’s president, Robert Zoellick, said in Washington rising prices have hit people hardest in the developing world because they spend as much as half their income on food.

The bank, in a report released on February 15, said that global food prices have jumped 29 percent in the past year, and are just 3 percent below the all-time peak hit in 2008.

On February 3, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization said prices are already high.

Its Food Price Index rose in January by 3.4 percent from December to 231 points. The rise was the seventh straight monthly increase.

The index measures monthly price changes for a basket of foods including cereals, oilseeds, dairy, meat and sugar.

High prices sparked rioting in 61 countries in 2007 and 2008. Back then, the FAO index was at 200 points for all of 2008.

The World Bank, in its report on February 15, estimated higher prices for corn, wheat and oil have pushed 44 million people into extreme poverty since last June.

Food inflation is among the factors blamed for the turmoil in Egypt and Yemen and the overthrow of Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

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