Arabs mull emergency fund to fight food inflation

AMMAN - Arab countries are mulling an emergency fund to help counter a global surge in food prices, Jordan's Agriculture Minister was quoted as saying on Monday.

By (Reuters)

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Published: Mon 5 May 2008, 8:44 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 1:30 PM

Protests, strikes and riots have erupted in developing countries around the world after prices of wheat, rice, corn, oils and other essential foods rose more than 40 percent in the past year.

The World Food Programme has described soaring food prices as a "silent tsunami" that threatens to plunge more than 100 million people into poverty.

"There is an intention to set up an emergency fund to support Arab countries that suffer from the rise in prices of food products," Jordan's state news agency Petra quoted Muzahim Muhaisin as saying.

Arab agriculture ministers met last week in the Saudi capital Riyadh for a meeting of the Arab Organization for Agricultural Development but little emerged about plans to confront the surge in global food prices.

Muhaisin did not elaborate on the plan saying only it would seek to boost concerted action to tap "competitive advantages" offered in Arab countries.

Many Arab regimes have a history of intervening to tame protests against food inflation, from last month's protests in Cairo to the so-called "breadstick clashes" in Morocco in the early 1980s when dozens were shot dead.

Arab countries rely heavily on food imports, leaving them vulnerable to price changes on the international markets.

Inflation is also taking the shine off the rapid economic growth of Gulf oil exporters flush with windfall oil revenues.

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