The number of poor people in the developing world has reached 44 million since June due to surging food prices, according to the World Bank.
In a Feb.15 news release, World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick said food prices are approaching “dangerous levels,” driving millions into poverty and “putting stress on the most vulnerable, who spend more than half of their income on food.”
The World Bank’s latest Food Price Watch report indicates that global wheat prices doubled between June 2010 and January 2011, while maize prices rose 73 percent. The bank’s food price index, meanwhile, climbed 15 percent from October 2010 to January 2011, which is 29 percent higher than the level a year ago.
To address the situation, the bank is recommending the expansion of nutritional and safety net programs in countries seeing the most dramatic spikes in food prices. It also reiterated the need to avoid food export restrictions, as well as underscored the importance of investing in agriculture and developing less food-intensive biofuels.
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