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Friday, March 24, 2017
Aid agencies sound alarm over world food shortage
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¬†Aid agencies have backed calls from the World Bank for emergency funds to deal with a growing food crisis worldwide. Across the developing world there are only eight to 12 weeks of cereal stocks left and grain supplies are at their lowest since the 1980s. The UN World Food Programme has issued an urgent appeal for $500 million to respond to the dramatic increase in food and fuel prices. Rioting in response to massive food price increases has broken out in countries as diverse as Egypt, Bolivia, Indonesia and Senegal. Violent unrest in Haiti spread to the capital after protesters stormed the presidential palace last week, demanding that the government lift taxes on rice and beans. At least five people were killed . In a country where 80% of people earn less than £1 a day, the price of basic foodstuffs has soared by more than 50% since last year. Only Somali and Afghanistan have a higher per capita daily deficit in calorie intake than Haiti. The food crisis in Haiti is so intense that there is a real danger that the government and United Nations forces will not be able to maintain security if food aid is not stepped up in the very near future. Prospery Raymond, the Christian Aid country representative, said: "The country is at the beginning of a major crisis and there is a real risk of more political violence." He said: "A major contributing factor to the current food shortages are the neo-liberal economic policies that have been required by donor countries. "Lifting tariffs on food imports meant that Haitian farmers couldn't compete and were growing less. Now that less food is coming in from abroad, partly because of land being given over to biofuels, there is simply not enough productive capacity to take up the slack." Christian Aid partner, Koral, will be implementing a seed-distribution and irrigation programme in the North West of Haiti. This will help about 2,000 people feed themselves within the next three months. In the meantime, the Haitian government should be allowed to introduce food and fuel subsidies as soon as possible in order to stabilise the situation, said Mr Raymond. Alistair Dutton, who runs Christian Aid's emergency response unit, said: There is a real risk or more violent unrest in many parts of the world if the international community does not take urgent measures to shore up the food supply for the poorest people." The director of Caritas Australia, Jack de Groot, said: ""Our own region is joining a growing crisis that extends from the Philippines, to Haiti, across to Malawi and back to East Timor, who are all staggering into a food crisis," Mr de Groot said: "Everyone has jumped on the biofuels wagon and while biofuels such as ethanol are part of the answer to the climate crisis, it is completely immoral to be diverting food stocks to fuel when people are starving. The United Nations World Food Program needed to refocus its policies to ensure local communities were in charge of their own food security, Mr de Groot said. Source: Christian Aid/Caritas
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