By Sung Lee
According to the latest UN FAO’s Food Price Index (FFPI), global food prices remain unchanged from their February levels. The Index averaged 216 points in March 2012, up 1 point from February. The FAO Oils/Fat Price Index increased 6 points (or 2.5 percent) while Dairy Price Index declined 5 points (2.5 percent) from February. The FAO also estimates world cereal production will reach a record 2,343 million tons this year.
Today's top stories on global agricultural development and food security issues.
My pitch to build a brave new World Bank, Opinon, José Antonio Ocampo, Financial Times, April 5
The Bank’s core mandate must remain that of reducing poverty. This relates primarily to the poorest countries, but also to middle-income countries, where most of the world’s poor live.” He continued, “To this end, the Bank should strengthen support for small-scale agriculture and feeder roads for rural producers; develop a minimum level of social protection; and make gender equality central to all its activities.”
Fla. hospital says former S. Dakota Sen. George McGovern in good condition, undergoing tests, Washington Post, April 5
Hospital officials said the elder McGovern is in stable condition. McGovern splits his time between Florida and South Dakota, where he was a South Dakota congressman from 1957 to 1961 and a U.S. senator from 1963 to 1981. He and former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole, a Republican, were honored in 2008 with the World Food Prize, a distinction some observers have called the Nobel Prize for hunger.
US suspends $13 million in aid to Mali, Reuters, April 5
The US is suspending at least $13 million of its roughly $140 million in annual aid to Mali following last month's coup in the West African nation, the State Department said. The suspension affects U.S. assistance for Mali's ministry of health, public school construction and the government's efforts to boost agricultural production.
World food prices rise further, raising fears of unrest, Reuters, April 5
The FAO index, which measures monthly price changes for a basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy, meat and sugar, averaged 215.9 points in March, up from a revised 215.4 points in February. The cost of food has risen again this year after coming down from a Feb. 2011 record peak. Higher food prices mean higher import bills for the poorest countries, which do not produce enough food domestically.
The crisis in Europe took a big bite out of foreign aid, Washington Post, April 4
A new report from the OECD finds that the euro debt crisis took its toll. Among wealthy countries, foreign assistance dropped 2.7 percent in 2011. The United States, meanwhile, saw its developmental aid drop 0.9 percent last year. But that headline number obscures some shifts, as the country refocuses its resources. U.S. bilateral aid to Africa rose 17.4 percent in 2011, and aid to the least developed countries rose 16.9 percent.
Seeds of Change for Thousands of Abyei Displaced, VOA News, April 3
In Nyinatar, the ICRC is giving out tools and seeds to over 200 needy families to grow grains and vegetables, and a half ration of food for up to three weeks to give people the energy to plant and resist eating the seeds. The scheme will help thousands more people in surrounding villages to start rebuilding their lives.
Strengthening our security and economy, Opinion, Barry Duval and Richard Hawley, Times Dispatch, April 1
Our experiences in the business community and the military have made us not just believers but advocates of the International Affairs Budget. It pays dividends in terms of keeping our families safe and our economy thriving. That is the kind of investment our leaders in Congress can, and should, support. We are mindful that budgets are tight and cuts will be made to bring our country back to fiscal responsibility, but this is a priority that protects our national security and enhances our economic growth.