World hunger increases despite growth in food production

Even as world food production grows, hunger is on the rise in many poor countries, according to the Global Crop Prospects and Food Situation report for November, published by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on 12 November.

The report highlights a contradiction: world cereal production is at its second-highest level ever, yet food prices remain very high. It identifies 77 countries that are both low-income and food deficit.

In East Africa, cereal prices range from 68 percent to 177 percent over the 2007 numbers. In southern Africa, prices are 58-200 percent higher than in 2007, and in most of Asia prices are up 40-70 percent. Since most low-income food deficit countries are food importers, they lose far more from high prices than they gain from steady crop production.

Hunger, in most cases, is caused by lack of money rather than a shortage of food production, according to the World Food Programme (WFP). In 2008 the number of undernourished people in the world increased by 40 million, despite record harvests.

The new FAO report suggests that 2009 is likely to see a similar increase in hunger.