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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Food prices are ’global crisis’

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Food prices are 'global crisis'

Concerns about food security mounted this week as rice prices hit records in Asia and the United States warned that staples for the world's hungry were getting much more expensive. The cost of feeding the world's hungry has jumped nearly 40% amid spiralling food costs and oil prices. Anger over high food and fuel costs in recent months has sparked protests in several countries. Governments of several food-growing countries, worried about domestic shortages, have imposed export curbs, spooking markets at a time when world inventories are down sharply. "The United Nations is very much concerned as all members of the international community (are)." The international community needs to take immediate action and world leaders should discuss ways to improve food distribution systems and production.

Increased food and petrol prices, and rising interest rates, are creating a new class of "white collar battlers", welfare groups warn. The Salvation Army in Australia has seen a 58% rise in crisis clients in the past six months, many of whom don't fit the usual profile of those in need. "Now WE HAVE A WHOLE NEW CLASS WHO ARE SIMPLY NOT COPING. First-home buyers who have bought into their dream and woken up to a very harsh reality. Young families, people with secure employment who find their costs exceed their income." The number of those seeking help had grown so sharply the charity was having to turn some people away. Financial pressures are pushing some white collar workers to the brink. "We're seeing different people who are really struggling, people who have white collar jobs, people with full-time jobs. It is really concerning.


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