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Food prices on record course
Welthungerhilfe warns of worsening hunger due to rising food prices
Welthungerhilfe warns of worsening hunger in the face of rising global food prices. The 2021 UN Price Index, which tracks the most traded food items globally, has risen to its highest level since 2011.
"We observe with concern that the prices of cereals, dairy products, cooking oil and other staple foods currently know only one direction: up. All warning lights are flashing red, because persistently high food prices can exacerbate existing hunger crises. Some 811 million people worldwide are already going hungry," says Dr. Rafaël Schneider, deputy head of Welthungerhilfe's policy department. The cause of the price increase is a combination of various factors: Rising energy prices make transportation more expensive and lead to price explosions for fertilizers. At the same time, climate change is increasingly destroying harvests as a result of extreme weather events. Added to this are the consequences of the Corona pandemic, poor infrastructure or violent local conflicts. Political factors also increase the pressure on prices, for example when it is foreseeable that grain exports from countries such as Ukraine could be in short supply.
The consequences of expensive food affect people worldwide. In Germany, too, rising prices for pasta, coffee or margarine will put a strain on the household budgets of many families, although on average they spend only about 12% on food. The situation is different in many of Welthungerhilfe's partner countries: "In Sierra Leone, the number of households spending more than 75% of their income on food more than doubled in 2021 compared to the previous year," says Schneider. "Rising prices lead not only to poverty, but directly to hunger: families forgo meals and buy cheaper and less healthy food. Child labor increases when parents have to send their children to earn money instead of to school."
There are no signs that food price trends will stabilize in 2022; on the contrary, the crop outlook for hungry regions in Africa and Asia is bleak. "The affected countries need to quickly prepare social security measures to ensure that people are fed. In the medium term, they must invest more in their agriculture, because now it is taking its revenge that too little was done after the last crises," Schneider demands. "Countries like Germany are called upon to expand their support for hunger reduction and rural development. In the short term, they should work to avoid export freezes for agricultural products."
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