The World Bank urged the Group of 20 nations to help save millions of people from hunger and malnutrition when its leaders hold a summit this week in the French resort town of Cannes.
Global food prices remain high and subject to swings “hitting the poorest countries hardest and adding to the strains facing the global economy,” the Washington-based lender said in releasing its Food Price Watch report today. The worst floods in Thailand in 50 years may cause production losses and add to uncertainty, report said.
“Averting crisis is not just about banks and debt,” bank President Robert Zoellick said in a statement accompanying the report. “Millions of people around the world face a daily crisis of hunger and malnutrition. At Cannes, the G-20 can and should take steps to address their needs.”
The bank’s food-price index was up 19 percent in September from a year earlier, with corn, rice and wheat contributing to the increase, the report said. While the supply and inventory of food are forecast to improve, volatility in prices, typically higher in low-income nations, will persist, the bank said.
“The food crisis is far from over,” Zoellick said in the statement released before G-20 leaders meet on Nov. 3-4. The top item for discussion is efforts to head off a threat of global recession, including the agreement reached by Europe’s leaders on a financial-rescue plan to resolve its sovereign-debt crisis.
The floods in Thailand may result in reducing rice production by 4 million to 6 million tons, or 16 percent to 24 percent of total production forecast, the Food Price Watch report said. The food crisis in the Horn of Africa is hurting 13.3 million people in the region, an additional million since August, according to the report.
The bank’s average food price index for the three months through September was little-changed from July and about 5 percent below its February peak, as the higher cost of cereal grains was offset by lower prices for fats and oils, the Food Price Watch report said.
In a separate report also released today, the World Bank said the global economy “has entered a risky phase that threatens to stall economic recovery in advanced economies.”
The G-20 should develop a strategy for growth and job creation, with a bigger role for developing countries that together accounted for as much as two-thirds of global economic growth and imports in the last five years, the report said.
Simulations show that a combination of fiscal consolidation in advanced economies and an increase in infrastructure investment in developing countries could raise gross domestic product in developing countries by about 25 percent and global GDP by 7 percent over a ten-year period, and significantly reduce global imbalances, the World Bank said.
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