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World food stocks to rise, but hunger risks persist in Sahel, Near East
FAO's quarterly forecast of agricultural production and food security gives an overall positive outlook for cereal production worldwide, but warns that several regions of the world are expected to struggle with the consequences of poor rainfall, severe weather, armed conflict and displacement.
The Crop Prospects and Food Situation report forecasts a record increase of 3.2 percent in world cereal production in 2012, totalling an estimated 2 419 million tonnes, mainly on the strength of a bumper maize crop in the United States. Wheat and coarse grains prices eased in May, mostly during the second half, driven by good supply prospects.
Despite the positive global trends, countries in the Sahel continue to face serious challenges to food security due to locally high food prices and civil strife, FAO warns. The Syrian Arab Republic and Yemen are also among the countries experiencing increasing levels of food insecurity.
"The situation in Yemen and Syria reminds us of the clear link between food security and peace. In this case, internal conflict is causing food insecurity. But, it works the other way around as well. Throughout the world we see crisis after crisis caused, in its entirety or in part, by the lack of food or disputes over natural resources, especially land and water," FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said.
The report also lists 35 countries in need of external food assistance, including Afghanistan, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Haiti, Iraq and Mali. Of the total, 28 countries are in Africa.
"This only goes to show, again, that hunger today is mainly a problem of access. Millions of poor families worldwide lack the means to produce their own food or decent jobs and income to buy the food they need," Graziano da Silva said.