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High Food Prices: The Situation In Six Countries

A local market in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Copyright:WFP/Chu Cancan

Soaring food prices over the past few months are taking their heaviest toll in countries like Bolivia and Kyrgyzstan, which depend on global markets for food staples and where families spend more than half their income on food.

ROME—Not all countries are affected by rising food prices in the same way. Here are six where food prices have risen sharply in recent months.

Bolivia

Bolivia has seen some of the sharpest rises in food costs to date. The price of pinto beans has skyrocketed by over 179 per cent compared to 2010, with flour prices up by 44 per cent and rice prices up by 33 per cent. Prices rose steeply in December, when the government suspended fuel subsidies, causing gas prices to shoot up by over 70 per cent.

Sudan

High food prices are fuelling double digit inflation in the African nation of Sudan, following cuts to government subsidies on fuel, sugar and some imported products. In January, consumer prices were rising by a rate of 15.4 per cent on the back of petrol costs, which were up by over a third since the beginning of the month.

Haiti

Food prices in Haiti rose drastically in the aftermath of the January 2010 earthquake. Though prices stabilised at the end of last year, they have since shot up again to levels not seen since the first week after the quake. The think-tank, Oxford Analytica, has classified Haiti among the countries liable to be hit worst by rising food prices.

Kyrgyzstan

Wheat prices in the Kyrgyz Republic are the highest in Central Asia, up by over 40 per cent since January 2010. One of the poorest countries in the region, Kyrgyzstan relies heavily on imported grain from Russia and was badly affected when the harvest there failed and the government imposed an export ban.

 

Armenia

Experts report that food costs in landlocked Armenia rose by some 26 per cent in December. The country’s dependence on food imports leaves it particularly vulnerable to price shocks. Moreoever, Armenian families ordinarily spend up to half their income on food, meaning that they may be spending even more now.

 

Somalia

Prices of maize and sorghum in Somalia have risen by as much as 80 per cent since September, due largely to widespread crop failures at the end of 2010. As a result of rising food prices, families are estimated to be spending between 60 and 80 per cent of their income on food.