The agency said that on average, prices rose 1.4 percent in September, after remaining steady in July and August. Sco...
The agency said that on average, prices rose 1.4 percent in September, after remaining steady in July and August. Scorching heat and drought in the United States, Russia and Europe constricted agricultural production and pushed up prices of corn and soybeans to record highs, the report said.
The largest increases were for dairy products, which rose 7 percent in September, their sharpest climb since January 2011. Higher feed costs were a major factor in the increase, and also helped to drive meat prices up 2.1 percent, especially in the _grain intensive_ pork and poultry industries, the report said.
Cereal prices rose 1 percent, and the food agency forecast a decline in global cereal production this year.
Despite the recent price increases, the agency_s overall food price index, which measures monthly price changes for a basket of goods including cereals, oilseeds, dairy products, meat and sugar, remains below the levels it reached in 2011, when high food prices led to unrest in the Middle East and northern Africa. But, adjusted for inflation, the index is now only 13 percent below its levels of 2008, when food costs set off riots in several countries.
After the release of the food agency_s report, Oxfam, a nonprofit international aid group, called on governments to tackle the root causes of food price volatility.
The price index _shows that food prices remain at extremely high levels,_ the group_s spokesman, Colin Roche, said in a statement. _The fact they are relatively steady is no cause for celebration. Governments must ensure that these high prices do not tip more vulnerable people into hunger. We cannot afford to sleepwalk into the next food crisis._
Oxfam also released a report on Thursday, saying that rising food prices have helped drive a global land rush that is undermining the rights and livelihoods of the poor and the most vulnerable people.
The Oxfam report said that foreign investors have invested heavily in recent years to acquire agricultural land in developing countries with serious hunger problems, but that most of the investors plan to use the land to grow exclusively for export, not for domestic sale.
By RON NIXON