Pakistan among 44 countries in need of external assistance for food: FAO

food 1 - Pakistan among 44 countries in need of external assistance for food: FAO

ROME: World food prices rose for the fourth consecutive month in November to remain at 10-year highs, led by strong demand for wheat and dairy products, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

FAO assesses that Pakistan is among 44 countries, which are in need of external assistance for food. The FAO’s food price index, which tracks international prices of the most globally traded food commodities, averaged 134.4 points last month compared with a revised 132.8 for October. The October figure was previously given as 133.2. The November reading has been the highest for the index since June 2011. On a year-on-year basis, the index was up 27.3 percent last month.

Agricultural commodity prices have risen steeply in the past year, driven by harvest setbacks and strong demand. The FAO’s cereal price index rose by 3.1 percent in November from the previous month and was 23.2 percent higher than its year-ago level, with wheat prices hitting their highest level since May 2011.

FAO said wheat prices were supported by concerns about unseasonable rains in Australia and uncertainty over potential changes to export measures in Russia.

The dairy price index posted the largest monthly rise, up 3.4 percent from the previous month. “Strong global import demand persisted for butter and milk powders as buyers sought to secure spot supplies in anticipation of tightening markets. Global sugar prices rose 1.4 percent on the month and were up nearly 40 percent year-on-year. “The increase was primarily driven by higher ethanol prices,” FAO said.

The meat price index posted its fourth consecutive monthly decline, shedding 0.9 percent on the month, while world vegetable oil prices fell 0.3 percent on October levels, but international palm oil prices remained firm, FAO said.

Conflicts and drought are exacerbating food insecurity conditions in several parts of the world, particularly in East and West Africa, according to the latest Crop Prospects and Food Situation Report.

FAO assesses that globally 44 countries, including 33 in Africa, nine in Asia and two in Latin America and the Caribbean, are in need of external assistance for food.

The 44 countries in need of external assistance for food are: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Guinea, Haiti, Iraq, Kenya, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Venezuela, Yemen, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The quarterly report also provides updates on cereal harvest trends, forecasting production in 2022 to grow by 2.0 percent in developed countries but slightly contracting by 0.1 percent in developing countries. For Low-Income Food Deficit Countries, the contraction is expected to be 2.4 percent, due to significant drops foreseen in Near East and East Africa.

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