UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon announced plans on Tuesday for a UN task force to tackle the growing crisis in food prices. As Ban made his announcement, food protests spread and some countries threaten to charge speculators.


Story Transcript

VOICE OF CARLO BASILONE: The United Nations’ secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, announced plans to establish a task force to tackle the global food crisis on Tuesday. Ban, who will lead the task force, said that an urgent need was to meet the shortfall in funding for the World Food Programme.

BAN KI-MOON, UN SECRETARY-GENERAL: The first and immediate priority issue that we all agreed was that we must feed the hungry. The CEB [Chief Executives Board] calls upon the international community, and in particular developing countries, to urgently and fully fund the emergency requirement of $755 million for the World Food Programme and honor our standing pledges.

BASILONE: Ban also announced that the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization has developed a US$1.7 billion plan to provide seeds for farmers in the world’s poorest countries. Rising global food prices have already sparked violent protests in the Caribbean, Africa, and Asia. On Monday in the Philippines, government officials said they plan to issue special cards for the poor to allow them to buy government-subsidized rice at 18 pesos a kilogram, or US$0.42, compared to the current commercial price of 35 pesos, or $0.83. The Philippines has been paying record prices on international markets to make up for a 10 percent domestic shortfall in rice. Meanwhile in Vietnam, the prime minister recently warned rice speculators they face severe punishment after rocketing prices led to panicked buying over the weekend. State media quoted Nguyen Tan Dung as saying supplies in Vietnam were completely adequate for domestic consumption and that any organizations and individuals speculating in the commodity would be severely punished. Price rises in Vietnam, the world’s second-biggest rice exporter, have been partly driven by strong demand from neighboring countries seeking to boost stocks for reasons of food security.

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