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World food prices rise further
Global food prices rose in March for a third straight month with more hikes to come, the United Nation’s food agency said on Thursday, adding to fears of hunger and a new wave of social unrest in poor countries. Record high prices for staple foods last year were one of the main factors that contributed to the Arab Spring uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as bread riots in other parts of the world.
The cost of food has risen again this year after coming down from a February 2011 record peak. The Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) index, which measures monthly price changes for a basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy, meat and sugar, averaged 215.9 points in March, up from a revised 215.4 points in February, the FAO said.
Although below the February 2011 peak of 237.9, the index is still higher than during a food price crisis in 2007-08 that raised global alarm. The FAO’s senior economist and grain analyst Abdolreza Abbassian told Reuters there was scope for more price rises in the first half of this year, particularly for corn and soybeans, which could also drive up the price of wheat.
Higher food prices mean higher import bills for the poorest countries, which do not produce enough food domestically.
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