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Volatile food prices 'here to stay?'

10/07/2013 @ 1:13pm

The United Nations food agency on Monday warned that volatility in global food prices was here to stay at a ministerial meeting in Rome on the issue.

Farm ministers from 30 countries met at the Rome-based U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation for their second meeting after an initial one last year.

"Prices are expected to remain volatile over the next years," FAO chief Jose Graziano Silva said.

He said prices had eased from last year, adding that grain production had rebounded and higher stock-to-use ratios should bring greater stability.

"International prices have declined but they are still above their historical levels," he said.

FAO's cereal price index is 20% lower than one year ago, he said, adding however that higher prices were not always a bad thing because of their boost to farming in many poor countries.

He said FAO members should take advantage of the relative calm and prepare for future market turbulence to address food price volatility.

"If higher and volatile prices are here to stay, then we need to adapt to this new pattern," he said, pointing to the role played by better global governance in reducing food price spikes.

FAO said the Agricultural Market Information System created by the Group of 20 developed and developing nations in 2011 had proved "an effective new weapon in the arsenal".

Monday's ministerial meeting coincides with the opening of the Committee on World Food Security, which runs until Friday at FAO headquarters.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires
October 07, 2013 10:51 ET (14:51 GMT)

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