8 March 2011, Rome/Bangkok - In response to the current rise in food prices, FAO will, in partnership with stakeholders, run a series of seminars in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Central Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the Near East to help governments to make informed decisions on how to respond to high food prices, the Organization announced today.
Global food prices increased for the eighth consecutive month in February, with prices of all commodity groups monitored rising again, except for sugar, according to the FAO Food Price Index. A tightening of the global cereal supply and demand balance in 2010/11 is likely.
The objective of the seminars is to exchange experiences from the last food price crisis in 2007/08 and to become better acquainted with the pros and cons of the various policy measures mapped out in FAO's newly updated Guide for Policy and Programmatic Actions at Country Level to Address High Food Prices.
"FAO feels it is essential that countries consider their policy options and steer away from decisions that might exacerbate the situation", said FAO Deputy Director-General Changchui He. "During the last food crisis, the situation was aggravated when some countries imposed export restrictions or engaged in panic buying."
"Governments should focus on mitigating the impact of high food prices on the poor and at the same time need to take steps that favour investment in agriculture," He added.
Officials from relevant ministries (agriculture, trade and finance) of 20 countries, representatives of farmers' organizations and other stakeholders including the private sector, regional bodies and development partners will attend the workshop.
High level representatives from the Asian Development Bank, Asean (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), the European Union, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, and the U.S. government will participate.
Other FAO partners such as ESCAP (the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific), UNDP (UN Development Programme), UNICEF (UN Children's Fund), the World Food Programme, and Japan will also attend.
The two-day regional seminars will be held from March through June. The first seminar will take place in Bangkok on 9-10 March.
The seminars are designed to raise awareness of the various policy options and to design country-specific immediate actions in response to rising food prices.
Another goal is to make countries better aware of how they can monitor, update and share information on price changes, policy measures and results.
The expected outcome of the seminars is to allow countries to adopt more informed policies to address high food prices and to know more about opportunities for collaboration and support from development partners.