Source: © 2011 G.M.B. Akash/Panos

In recent years, the world has faced continuing food security challenges. The food price spikes of 2007-2008 and 2010-2011 brought lasting impacts in the form of increasingly high food prices and price volatility, overwhelmingly harming the world's poorest producers and consumers. Guarding against price volatility to protect the world's most vulnerable populations will require restructuring global agricultural and financial markets, a need that global leaders are now beginning to recognize and address.

2006-2008 saw dramatic increases in the price of many staple food items, particularly maize, rice, and wheat. These staple commodities form the bulk of the diet of the world’s poor populations, many of whom spend over one-half of their income on food. The result in many areas of the world was worsening poverty for already poor populations due to a decline in purchasing power. While much attention has been given to the economic impacts of the rise in food prices, little empirical research has been conducted to examine the nutritional impacts of the food crisis.

The World Bank has released its Food Price Watch for February, citing estimates that suggest an additional 44 million people may have fallen into poverty in low- and middle-income
countries due to the rise in food prices since June 2010. The overall global rise in food prices has been driven by increases in the prices of wheat, maize, sugar, and fats and oils. (Track the rise in global commodities prices and futures prices with agricultural commodities tools )

A child in Bangladesh receives nutritional supplements.

The FAO has released its Food Price Index for January, 2011. This report provides a measure of the monthly change in international prices for major food commodities. The January Price Index rose for the seventh consecutive month, showing a marked increase in the global price of all major commodities. Such an increase makes this month's Price Index the highest (in both real and nominal terms) since the index was first backtracked in 1990.

To view the whole report, visit http://www.fao.org/worldfoodsituation/FoodPricesIndex/en/

Durante la crisis alimentaria mundial de los años 2007 y 2008, los precios internacionales de los productos agrícolas tales como el trigo, el arroz, el maíz y la soja subieron a más del doble. Mientras que las inundaciones en Australia diezman los cultivos de trigo del país y las inclemencias climáticas en los Estados Unidos reducen las cosechas de maíz y soja, los precios de los productos básicos a nivel global se ven nuevamente afectados por aumentos drásticos.

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS Net), funded by USAID, has released its latest Food Assistance Outlook Brief. This report provides forward-looking analysis of projected external emergency food assistance needs in 20 developing countries for the next six months. Overall needs at a national level are compared to typical needs at this time of year during the last five years.

Dowload the latest Food Assistance Outlook Brief below. For more information regarding FEWS NET, please visit www.fews.net.

With all the news of floods in Australia decimating the country’s wheat crop and adverse weather in the US cutting corn and soybean harvests, commodities prices across the globe are again seeing drastic increases, raising fears that we may be witnessing a return of widespread food insecurity and subsequent political and economic turmoil. Moreover, the FAO’s recent statement that global food prices reached a record high in December 2010 has sparked the memory of the crisis in 2007–08 and turned global attention back to the issue of food security.

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