3. Africa: United Nations acts to boost food production this season (United Nations’ Integrated Regional Information Networks)

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In many African countries, the cost of putting bread on the table has risen. Supplies of basic foods are low, making them more expensive to buy. Depending on the country, someone shopping for a loaf of bread or a sack of grain can pay up to 50 per cent more than last year.

The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, or FAO, worries that food could become so scarce in food-importing countries that even those with money will not be able to purchase it. The organization is concerned that some of these countries simply won’t be able to import enough food for its citizens.

So the FAO is spending 17 million US dollars, or 11 million Euros, to help avert a potential food crisis. The money will be used to quickly boost food production in some poor countries that normally have to import food. Farmers will be provided with fertilizer and corn, rice, and sorghum seeds this growing season, to help increase their yields.

Jacques Diouf is the Executive Director of the FAO. He acknowledges that the multimillion-dollar support fund for farmers is a quick fix, and that longer-term solutions are required. He says that better water management is needed to help ensure farmers can produce crops, even when the climate is poor.

Global food stocks are the lowest ever recorded. Over the past year, droughts and floods have destroyed crops in many parts of the world. Increasing oil prices have also made it more expensive to ship food.

At the same time, food is in higher demand. More people in Asia and Latin America are eating meat, driving up demand for animal feed. Cereal crops are also being used to produce biofuels.

The FAO is urging governments and aid agencies to join its effort to boost local food production.