The World Bank has announced emergency measures to tackle rising food prices around the globe.
World Bank president Robert Zoellick (right) warned that "100 million people in poor countries could be pushed deeper into poverty by spiraling prices". The crisis has already sparked recent food riots in several countries, including Haiti, the Philippines and Egypt.
The World Bank endorsed Mr. Zoellick's "new deal" action plan for a long-term boost to agricultural production. Emergency help would include an additional $ 10 million to Haiti, where several people were killed in food riots last week, and a doubling of agricultural loans to African farmers.
Robert Zoellick's proposals were endorsed by the World Bank's steering committee of finance and development ministers at a meeting in Washington.
The World Bank and its sister organisation, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), held a weekend of meetings addressing the rapidly rising food and energy prices as well as the credit crisis that is upsetting global financial markets.
IMF president Dominique Strauss-Kahn, a former French Finance Minister, said last week that hundreds of thousands of people were at risk of starvation because of food shortages. Prices have risen sharply in recent months, driven by increased demand, poor weather in some countries that has ruined crops, and reduced production area, due to an increase in the use of land to grow crops for transport fuels.
According to the World Bank the price of staple crops such as wheat, rice and corn have all risen, leading to an increase in overall food prices of 83% in the last three years.
The sharp rises have led to protests and unrest in many countries, including Egypt, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, the Philippines and Indonesia. In Haiti last week's protests turned violent, leading to the deaths of five people and the fall of the government.
Restrictions on rice exports have been put in place in major producing countries such as India, China, Vietnam and Egypt. Rice importing countries such as Bangladesh, the Philippines and Afghanistan have been hit hard.
"We have to put our money where our mouth is now - literally - so that we can put food into hungry mouths," said Zoellick. "It's as stark as that."
He called for more aid to provide food to needy people in poor countries and help for small farmers. He said the World Bank was working to provide money for seeds for planting in the new season. He also urged wealthy donor countries to quickly fill the World Food Programme's estimated $ 500 million funding shortfall.
Mr. Zoellick, who was appointed to his post by George W. Bush after the previous World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz (who had earlier, as Deputy Defense Secretary, planned the illegal war against Iraq) had to resign in disgrace over a personal favours scandal forgot to mention only one point.
If the costs of only two days of US operations in Iraq would be re-directed to the World Food Programme, there would be no funding shortfall. In fact, the money the USA spend in Iraq in one month could end starvation and world poverty for good.
But in contrast to Robert Zoellick, his master G. W. Bush is not interested in people and how they live. All he cares for is money and oil.
The Emerald Islander