The U.N. Prays for Rain


Three U.N. agencies - the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) - called for "swift, coordinated action" to attack food prices and hunger. The group might as well pray for rain. There are no actions to be taken to solve that trouble.

The agencies laid out the problem:

Two interconnected problems must be tackled: the immediate issue of some high food prices, which can impact heavily on food import-dependent countries and on the poorest people; and the long-term issue of how we produce, trade and consume food in an age of increasing population, demand and climate change.

Among them, the agencies believe that groups they have helped create can:

facilitate coordinated policy responses by the major world producers and traders of key cereals and soybeans in the event of market upheavals.

Those solutions would mean cooperation from drought ravaged countries that range from the United States to smaller nations in Africa and from Russia to parts of China. These nations have never cooperated to bring down food prices, and they will not. The direct interests of each nation involve the financial situations of their own farmers and the inflation that high food prices can produce.

The problems are made even more complex because some farmers have received a bumper crop of profits due to high food prices or the pay out of crop insurance. In other nations, where farmers have no means to financially survive the effects of drought, many will be driven out of the business. Put briefly, the U.N. goal which is to "both to reduce and to spread that risk" is founded on cooperation among interests that in many cases are opposed to one another. Feeding the world's poor is not a priority of many farming interests. In many cases, the desire for profit is.

As part of the statement of the three agencies, they point out:

We are at risk because only a handful of nations are large producers of staple food commodities, and when they are affected, so is everyone else.

Those nations are affected, and what they can do for others is, in many cases, not a priority at all.

Douglas A. McIntyre

Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, Agriculture Tagged: featured