World Bank, IMF, WTO Raises Alarm About Food Scarcity

World Bank, IMF, WTO Raises Alarm About Food Scarcity

The World Bank Group (WBG), International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) have warned, in strong terms, about the impending global food crisis if the world leaders do not act fast.

The warning was contained in the jointly issued by leaders of the organisations – David Malpass, Kristalina Georgieva, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and David Beasley – ahead of the Spring Meetings of the IMF and WBG, which is holding next week.

The joint declaration emphasises the consequences of geopolitical tensions and a full-fledged war between Ukraine and Russia, warning that every one percentage point increase in food costs will push 10 million people into extreme poverty.

The leaders also detailed the work their organisations are undertaking to relieve the burden, while also urging the international community to assist vulnerable nations with funds to help them meet essential financial demands.

Provision of emergency food supplies, financial assistance to individuals and nations, the promotion of unrestricted commerce, and investment in sustainable food production are among the actions they have done to help the progress toward food security, according to them.

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“Compounding problems are shaking the planet. The aftermath of Ukraine’s war is adding to the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic, which is now in its third year, as climate change, growing fragility, and violence continue to affect people all across the world. Sharply rising basic prices and supply shortages are putting pressure on people throughout the world, forcing millions more into poverty, according to the statement.

The current threat is greatest for the poorest countries, who rely on imports for food, even as “risk is fast expanding in middle-income countries, which host the bulk of the world’s poor,” according to the report.

The organisations noted that a dramatic increase in the cost of natural gas – a key ingredient in nitrogenous fertiliser – has exacerbated the rise in food prices, and that rising fertiliser prices, combined with significant cuts in global supplies, have serious implications for food production in most countries, particularly those that rely on fertiliser imports.

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They warned that rising food prices and supply disruptions might exacerbate societal tensions in many of the nations impacted, particularly those already afflicted by violence.

“We encourage the international community to provide immediate assistance to vulnerable nations in the form of emergency food supplies, financial assistance, greater agricultural production, and free commerce.”

“We are dedicated to combing our knowledge and finances to swiftly ramp up our policy and financial support to assist vulnerable nations and households, as well as improve domestic agricultural output in afflicted countries and supply to them.” They promised, “We can reduce balance of payments constraints and cooperate with all nations to maintain trade flows open.”

They stated that one way the international community might assist vulnerable nations is to provide emergency food supply and safety nets to meet the needs of the poor and smallholder farmers facing increasing input prices.

They also advocated for open trade and the elimination of restrictive measures such as food and fertiliser export bans, stating that it is critical to provide food security to insecure countries “in a coordinated manner,” as well as working with multilateral and bilateral partners to help countries “address this urgent crisis.”

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Nigeria has had a worsening food price problem in the last two years, pushing headline inflation farther away from the lower double-digit rate expected in 2021. Inflationary differences between food and core inflation have continuously surpassed 5%.

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