Good harvests abundant inventory continue to drive international food prices down –

According to a statement released by the Rome-based FAO, bumper harvests and abundant stockpiles are key factors helping drive down international food prices. World wheat production in 2014 is forecast to reach a new record while world cereal production in 2014 is anticipated to reach 2.5 billion tonnes – with stocks set to hit their highest level in 15 years by the end of the cropping season in 2015.Global output of oilseeds is also forecast to exceed last season’s record due to further expansion of soybean production. Meanwhile, world production of cassava – a staple crop for millions – looks to be on track to achieving another record high, driven by sustained growth in Africa.Meat production is set to grow moderately, but not enough to ease prices from their current high levels, while milk production continues to grow steadily in many countries. Production of fish is also on the rise, driven largely by aquaculture and less-than-expected El Niño impacts.The FAO Food Price Index (FPI) for September, also released today, registered its sixth consecutive monthly drop – the longest period of continuous decline in the value of the index since the late 1990s – averaging 191.5 points in September 2014.The FPI is a trade-weighted index that measures prices of five major food commodities on international markets. In September it found that, sugar and dairy fell most sharply, followed by cereals and oils, while meat prices remained steady. Meat prices are at a historic high, but registered only a slight increase over August (0.3 of a point) after months of steady hikes.High meat prices as well as large trade volumes for products in the animal protein category, including meat, dairy and fish, mean that countries importing foodstuffs will surpass $1 trillion again this year, for the fifth year in a row.To help spot food price spikes affecting consumers in the developing world, particularly in low-income food-deficit countries (LIFDCs), FAO recently launched a new website that reports abnormally high prices of staple foods in markets in 85 different countries.Also published today, the Organization’s quarterly report Crop Prospects and Food Situation that monitors food security in developing countries, highlighted several hot-spots of particular concern.It says that the Ebola virus disease outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone has disrupted markets, farming activities and livelihoods, seriously affecting the food security of large numbers of people. And irregular rains in the Sahel belt will result in mixed production prospects.While crop production in the Central African Republic is up from 2013, it still remains well below average due to the impact of widespread civil insecurity. And food prices in Somalia and the Sudan are at a record high.Drought conditions in Central America have reduced harvest in key producing countries. Drought has also been a problem in the Near East, leading to a below-average cereal harvest for the region, while the conflicts in Syria and Iraq continue to degrade food security. read more

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Duterte drug war Philippines cuts rights bodys budget to 20

Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedPhilippines leader Duterte faces investigation over killings claimDecember 22, 2016In “World”Blood and benefits: Duterte imposes his hometown formula on the PhilippinesDecember 28, 2016In “World”300 dirty cops will be brought to justice – says Philippines police chiefAugust 24, 2016In “Health” Thousands have been killed since President Duterte launched his war on drugs last year (AFP photo)(BBC) Lawmakers in the Philippines have voted to give an annual budget of just 1,000 pesos ($20; £15) to the public body investigating the country’s controversial war on drugs.The cut to the budget of the Commission on Human Rights was supported by a margin of 119 to 32 in Congress.Speaker of the House Pantaleon Alvarez labelled the commission “useless”.But critics say the move is punishment for the body’s staunch criticism of President Rodrigo Duterte’s drugs war.Thousands have been killed since President Duterte launched the anti-drug crackdown last year. It aims to wipe out the drug trade in the Philippines, but has attracted international criticism over the number of deaths.The Commission on Human Rights, which has been investigating the killings, initially requested a budget of 1.72bn pesos ($34m; £25m) for 2018, but the government proposed less than half of that.On the second reading of the legislation, Congress voted for the figure to be cut to just 1,000 pesos, a massive cut from 2017’s budget of 749m pesos.The government’s crackdown on drugs has provoked international criticism (Getty Images)Speaking in a television interview, Mr Alvarez, said: “If you want to protect the rights of criminals, get your budget from the criminals.”He then accused the commission of incompetence, saying: “Why should you get budget from the government and yet you are not doing your job?”Congressman Edcel Lagman, who opposed the budget cut, said the president’s supporters in Congress were “virtually imposing the death penalty on a constitutionally created and mandated independent office”.Although the motion still requires approval in the Senate, opponents say it is likely to be passed because President Duterte has a majority in the two chambers. read more

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