The World Bank says inflation in food prices remains high globally. It made the declaration in its latest Food Security Update report issued on Wednesday.
“Information from the latest month between December 2022 and March 2023 for which food price inflation data are available shows high inflation in almost all low and middle-income countries.
“Inflation levels are greater than five per cent in 70.6 per cent of low-income countries and in 90.9 per cent of lower-middle-income countries.
“Inflation rate is also above five per cent in 87 per cent of upper-middle-income countries some of which are experiencing double-digit inflation,’’ it stated.
It stressed that about 84.2 per cent of high-income countries were experiencing high food price inflation.
“The countries affected most are in Africa, North America, Latin America, South Asia, Europe, and Central Asia,’’ the World Bank noted.
It quoted the Food and Agriculture Organisation as stating that the benchmark index of international food commodity prices declined for the 12th consecutive month in March 2023.
“The FAO Food Price Index averaged 126.9 points in March 2023, a marginal 2.1 per cent decrease from February 2023 and a 20.5 per cent decrease from its peak in March 2022.
“The index, which tracks monthly changes in international commodity prices, indicated that a combination of factors, including ample supplies, subdued import demand, and extension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, contributed to the decrease,’’ the bank stated.
It noted that in 2019 and before COVID-19, the FAO Food Price Index stood at 95.1 points.
As part of its global response to the food security crisis, the World Bank announced in April 2022 that it would provide up to $30 billion over 15 months, including $12 billion in new projects.
The bank stated that the financing was to scale up short-term and long-term responses along four themes to boost food and nutrition security, reduce risks, and strengthen food systems.
“This will be done by supporting producers and consumers, facilitating increased trade in food and trade inputs, supporting vulnerable households, and investing in sustainable food and nutrition security.
“Between April and December 2022, the bank’s food and nutrition security commitments in new lending passed the $12 billion mark with almost half of this for Africa, which is one of the regions hardest-hit by the food crisis.
“Some examples include the $766-million West Africa Food Systems Resilience Programme which is working to increase preparedness against food insecurity and improve the resilience of food systems in West Africa.
“The programme is increasing digital advisory services for agriculture and food crisis prevention and management.
“It is also boosting adaptation capacity of agriculture system actors, and investing in regional food market integration and trade to increase food security,’’ it stated.
The World Bank added that an additional $345 million is currently under preparation for Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.