A farmer throws
fertilizer on a rice paddy field in Dong Xung village,
(Reuters) - Record high food prices are moving to the top of policymaker agendas, driven by fears it could stoke inflation, protectionism and unrest and dent consumer demand in key emerging economies.
Nations' food agency (FAO) said on Wednesday that food prices hit a record high
last month, above 2008 levels when riots broke out in countries as far afield
President Susilo Yudhoyono Bambang told a cabinet meeting people should be "creative" in planting, with Trade Minister Mari Pangestu leading the way in planting at home.
"I have 200 chilli plants in flowerpots," Pangestu told a briefing on Thursday. "The agriculture ministry is informing farmers how to take care of the plant and also encouraging consumers to plant chilli in their own yards."
Surging food prices have often provoked unrest in urban areas of poor countries, where food makes up a high proportion of household purchases.
say African and
If Asian and other emerging consumers have to spend more of their income on food, other purchases will fall -- and that could be bad news for a global economy that has placed much of its hopes for recovery on consumption in developing economies.
World Bank President Robert Zoellick urged governments in a newspaper opinion column to avoid protectionist measures as food prices rose and called upon the Group of 20 leading economies to take steps to make sure the poor get adequate food supplies.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has asked the World Bank to conduct urgent research on the impact of food prices ahead of G20 meetings later this year, a source familiar with the matter said.
INDIAN INTEREST RATE PRESSURE
Food price protests were seen a factor in the ousting of Indonesia's long-term autocrat Suharto in 1998, and anger over a farmland purchased by South Korean firm Daewoo at a time of rising prices was in part blamed for a 2009 coup in Madagascar.
The Indian government has used a range of measures for years to ensure stable food prices, but since last year has boosted the release of national stocks of grains and has pledged to continue duty-free imports of crude vegetable oils.
The cost of food rose 11.7 percent in the year to November, while non-food items were up just 1.9 percent. But, reflecting concerns that inflation is creeping beyond food to the wider economy, consumer goods prices and housing costs showed clear jumps.
Fu Bingtao, an economist with the Agricultural Bank of China
in Beijing, said in a report the price of grains, the country's most important
food, would rise in 2011 by 10 percent, adding to an 11.7 percent rise in 2010. (Look!!!
"Speculative trading and hoarding of specific agricultural products may continue," he said.