As global food prices reach record highs, the World Bank warns that further spikes could push more individuals and families into poverty. The organization that loans money to developing nations said its global food price index was up 36% in March from levels a year earlier. The increase was driven by sharp boosts in prices for corn, wheat, soybeans and other staples. The surge in global food prices has already driven 44 million people below the “extreme poverty line,” which the World Bank defines as living on just $1.25 a day.
According to the World Bank, an additional 10% increase in food prices would cause another 10 million people to fall below the poverty line, while a 30% spike would lead to 34 million more poor. Food prices have been on the rise since last year, as crops in many parts of the world were damaged by bad weather. Canada, Australia and Argentina were also hit with weather events that damaged crops in the second half of last year. More recently, food prices have been pushed higher by rising energy costs, as oil prices spiked above $100 a barrel. That has made producing and transporting agricultural goods more expensive.
There is however a plan that is being put into place to help alleviate the financial stress of putting a quality meal on the table. Officials from the Group of 20 (G-20) economic powers are scheduled to design a “code of conduct” on export bans, which many have blamed for exacerbating the increase in wheat prices. This proposed “code of conduct” would also do more to increase food production and help developing countries manage agricultural risks.
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