After decreasing somewhat in recent months, international food prices have again risen dramatically, according to figures published on Thursday by the World Bank. Statistics for July indicate a 10 percent rise over just the previous month, and a six percent increase over already high prices from the same time frame a year ago.
“Food prices rose again sharply, threatening the health and well-being of millions of people,” World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said in a statement on Thursday from the bank’s Washington headquarters. “Africa and the Middle East are particularly vulnerable, but so are people in other countries where the prices of grains have gone up abruptly.”
That list includes countries around the world. According to the World Bank’s new Food Price Watch, between June and July prices for both maize and wheat increased by 25 percent, while soybeans went up by 17 percent. That leaves prices one percent higher than the previous price peak in February 2011.
Kim noted that the World Bank has already brought its agriculture support to its highest level in the past two decades.
“We cannot allow these historic price hikes to turn into a lifetime of perils as families take their children out of school and eat less nutritious food to compensate for the high prices,” he said. “Countries must strengthen their targeted programs to ease the pressure on the most vulnerable population.”
In recent months, watchdog groups around the world have expressed frustration with a perceived lack of both urgency and creativity on the part of national and multilateral policymakers in dealing with the return of food prices to near-crisis levels.