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Leaders Must Continue To Address Food Price Volatility, Food Security

“Despite a sudden increase in July this year, prices of cereals on world markets remained fairly stable,” Jose Graziano da Silva, director-general of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), writes in an Inter Press Service opinion piece. “But there are no grounds for complacency, as cereals markets remain vulnerable to supply shocks and disruptive policy measures,” he states, adding, “In this context, the good harvests that are expected in the Southern Hemisphere are important.” He notes, “In the last 10 years we have seen major changes in the behavior of food prices,” and continues, “All this makes it timely to reflect on recent price events and the reactions of the international community, especially since price volatility is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.”

“Set against this backdrop, the Ministerial Meeting on Food Price Volatility held on World Food Day on Oct. 16 was particularly relevant,” da Silva writes, noting, “Twenty-five ministers and 13 deputy ministers met to discuss the issues and exchange views on how to strengthen measures to contain food price volatility and to reduce its impact on the most vulnerable populations.” He recaps a number of initiatives discussed at the meeting, in particular the Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS) that was launched by the Action Plan on Food Price Volatility and Agriculture adopted by the G20 leaders in November 2011, and writes, “FAO is prepared to assist governments in implementation of these safety measures.” He concludes, “We are making up for lost time, as food security governance was neglected until a few years ago. Fortunately we are learning that, in a globalized world, it is impossible to ensure food security in a single country or region” (11/2).