30 April 2008 | Jake Kanter
The UN is to set up a task force to help combat increased global food prices.
Speaking at a press conference in Switzerland yesterday, UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon said without emergency measures there is the risk of "widespread hunger, malnutrition, and social unrest on an unprecedented scale".
Escalating energy prices, lack of agricultural investment and increasing demand have all contributed to recent high food costs.
To combat the problem, the secretary general will chair a new group of the heads of the World Bank and other UN agencies. Ban said the first priority is to feed the hungry and he called upon developed countries to provide total combined emergency funds of $755 million (£383 million) for the World Food Programme. UN and World Bank officials then plan to meet in affected countries to develop support strategies for governments.
He added high energy and fertilizer costs had prompted farmers to produce less food. He said the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation was calling for funds of $1.7 billion (£863 million) to help farmers boost production.