Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Food Price Index rises on higher dairy and meat prices

Prices for other food commodities declined in April

Bangkok, Thailand, 09 May 2013 -- Speaking at his monthly briefing for the media, Hiroyuki Konuma, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific announced that the Organization’s  Food Price Index, released today from FAO Headquarters in Rome “averaged nearly 216 points in April 2013, up more than 2 points (1.0 percent) from its revised March value of 213 points and from April last year.”

“At that level,” said Konuma, “ the index is 9 percent below its peak, reached in February 2011. Similar to price developments in March, the April increase was driven almost exclusively by a sharp rise in dairy quotations, as meat prices rose marginally with other food commodities falling.”

The FAO price index is only one indicator of how prices of selected raw material used for producing food are behaving at the world level. They may not always reflect the situation at local or national levels but could provide good information to policy makers about the trend in international markets.

Global Cereal Prices down by 4 percent from March

The FAO Cereal Price Index averaged 235 points in April, down 10 points (4.1 percent) from March, but nearly 11 points (4.9 percent) above the corresponding period last year. Most of the decline in April was triggered by weaker maize prices on expectation of higher closing stocks and favourable 2013 crop prospects. According to the Index, rice prices were marginally down, depressed by falling Indica rice quotations, while Japonica and, especially, fragrant rice prices moved upwards.

Global Cereal production forecast to rise in 2013, particularly rice production

Konuma also highlighted information from the FAO Cereal Supply and Demand Brief also issued today from Rome. He said that FAO is forecasting strong growth in world cereal production in 2013 over its estimate of 2.3 billion tonnes in 2012.  World cereal stocks by the close of seasons ending in 2013 are forecast at 505 million tonnes, about 16 million tonnes below their opening levels. However, world rice stocks are forecast to be some 10 million tonnes larger than in 2012.

Tentatively, and assuming a return to a more normal weather pattern in Asia, Konuma said the FAO Brief “foresees rice production in the forthcoming 2013 season to rise to 497.7 million tonnes. Konuma said that would be 16  million tonnes more than in 2012, with particularly large increases expected in India and Indonesia.

“ World rice consumption is predicted to grow by 1.8 percent to 477.6 million tonnes in 2012/13. Of these some 402.7 million tonnes are destined for food consumption, allowing for a small increase in intake per head.

Sharp fall in world cereal trade in 2012/13, involving all major cereals T

The brief set world cereal trade in 2012/13 at 304.4 million tonnes, almost 1 million tonnes larger than forecast last month, still implying a decline from 2011/12 of about 4 percent (13 million tonnes). The anticipated year-to-year contraction in world cereal trade would be the result of smaller shipments of wheat, coarse grains and rice, Mr Konuma said, “Trade in rice during calendar year 2013 is projected to hover around 37.4 million tonnes, slightly higher than the April forecast of 37.0 million tonnes. At this new forecast level, the volume of rice exchanged on world markets would be 3 percent smaller than the 2012 record, with India and Brazil accounting for much of the decline in world exports, while China, Indonesia, Nigeria and Senegal are behind much of  the decline in imports.”

Launch of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s Zero Hunger Challenge in Asia-Pacific

Konuma explained major aspects of the Zero Hunger Challenge, which was launched in Asia and the Pacific at a launching ceremony in Bangkok on 29 April, which was attended by UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson and the Prime Ministers of Timor Leste and Solomon Islands as well as other ministers and government officials. During the launch, top national leaders called for governments, farmers, scientists, business, civil society and consumers to join the fight to end hunger in the region where the majority of the world's undernourished people live.

Konuma said that one in every eight people in the Asia-Pacific region is being denied the most basic human right, because they do not have sufficient nutritious food to lead productive lives. Nearly two-thirds of the world's chronically hungry people live in the Asia-Pacific region.  "The MDG Goal of reducing the proportion of hunger by half by 2015 and the Zero Hunger Challenge to eradicate hunger within our lifetimes are both achievable if we work harder as a team and redouble our efforts."

The global Zero Hunger Challenge was proposed by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon during the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in June 2012 has five objectives: 1) 100 per cent access to food for all, all year round; 2) end to stunting among children under two because of a lack of nutrients during pregnancy and in the early days of life; 3) ensuring sustainable food systems; 4) doubling smallholder productivity and income; and 5) reduction in food loss, at the farmer level, through lack of suitable storage and reduction of waste of food by retailers and consumers.

FAO works with China and its neighbours to contain and A(H9N7) virus spill-over

Turning to the A(H7N9) virus in China, Konuma said, “FAO remains concerned about the public health implications and the impact that the A(H7N9) virus is having on the poultry sector in the situation emerging in China. There have been 130 confirmed human cases of the virus in China resulting in 31 deaths.”  

FAO continues to be engaged with China’s agriculture ministry and is also working with our partners at the World Health Organization and World Animal (OIE) to monitor the  situation, explore and assess virus characteristics, prepare market chain analysis, risk assessment, surveillance guidance and communication. Also, China has strengthened the monitoring of migratory birds and established two monitoring sites in Nandagang and Haixing Wetlands.   Konuma said that FAO recently “drew up plans to conduct surveillance for any virus spill-over in countries neighbouring China. FAO will also support countries in the region with surveillance and preparation of contingency plans to deal with any outbreaks.”

On 26 April FAO called for US$35 million to support the new global framework on H7N9 and made public the new FAO web portal on H7N9 at: www.fao.org/h7n9

Also at the media briefing were Sumiter Broca, FAO Policy and Programme Officer, Nomindelger Bayasgalanbat, Technical Officer Nutrition and Programmes and Subhash Morzaria, Regional Manager of the Emergency Centre of Transboundary Animal Diseases.

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