New York, Jul 16 2009 12:00PM

Despite a drop in international food prices and good cereal harvests overall, prices in developing countries remain high, hurting millions of poor people in both rural and urban areas, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (<“”>FAO) warned in a <“”>report released today.

In several countries, current prices exceed last year’s highs or stand at record levels, according to the “Crop Prospects and Food Situation” report.

In 27 sub-Saharan African nations, FAO found that 80 to 90 per cent of all cereal prices remain over 25 per cent higher than before the food price crisis two years ago.

“The high food price situation continues to give rise to concern for the food security of vulnerable populations in both urban and rural areas, as these groups spend a large share of their incomes on food,” the publication said.

In Sudan, prices of sorghum, a type of grain, were three times higher in June than they were two years ago. In Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia, maize prizes have doubled, while in Southern Africa, they have dropped recently due to a bumper harvest but remain above pre-2007 levels.

Spurring continued high prices in poorer nations are reduced harvests, higher or delayed imports, civil conflicts, strong demand in neighbouring countries, devalued national currencies, and higher transport costs, among other factors, <“”>said FAO.

Although global cereal production will decline by 3 per cent this year from 2008, which saw the largest harvest ever, the report said that the outlook for world cereal supply and demand is satisfactory.

But it also cautioned that 30 countries around the global are in crisis and require assistance due to natural disasters, insecurity and economic problems.

FAO’s Rome headquarters will host a World Food Summit in November to further success towards eradicating hunger and improving governance of the international agricultural system.

For more details go to UN News Centre at

Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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