Eastern Europe could counter high food prices
March 10, 2008
Expansion of agriculture in Eastern Europe could help counter surging food prices said a top official from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Speaking Monday at conference in London organized by FAO and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf said that 13 million hectares of arable land withdrawn from production in recent years in Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine could be returned to production with no major environmental cost. He said the move could easily surpass the projected seven percent rise in grain output from Eastern Europe and Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) by 2016.
“Let us be bolder and imagine the removal of the institutional and financial constraints that limit production in the region,” he said. “The region’s cereal output and its contribution to world exports would then be well above those projections.”
EBRD President Jean Lemierre added that collaboration between private and public sectors could make a substantial increase in production a reality.
“There is now an urgent need for both the private and public sectors to work together to create the conditions for sustainable investment that will restore the primacy of this region as a crucial center of agricultural production.”
Global food prices surged by 40 percent in 2007 according to FAO. Demand for biofuels, combined with a sub-par year for some crops and rising meat consumption in developing and emerging countries, are cited a drivers of the increase.