The World Bank has urged countries to refrain from banning the export of grains and other food items, explaining that such bans could trigger a global food crisis.
The warning, issued by World Bank Managing Director Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, came after an announcement by Russia that it could extend its grain export ban into 2011, Reuters says. Russia banned grain exports following a record drought that hit the Black Sea region. The country is currently the world’s third-largest wheat producer.
Okonjo-Iweala said the recent sharp hike in global grain prices does not constitute a crisis yet. But increased volatility of global food prices would hurt poor countries, she added.
The World Bank is conducting a study of which countries would be most likely affected by a global food price crisis, Okonjo-Iweala said. She added that the bank would launch a food fund in September if the situation becomes worse.
“We don’t see a crisis yet and are hoping to head it off by asking countries not to undertake policies that will precipitate a crisis,” Okonjo-Iweala said, according to Reuters.