Food prices rise above inflation, according to the World Bank

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Food prices continue to rise above general inflation in almost 80% of the world's countries, with extreme cases such as Argentina (+150.1%) and Venezuela (+318.1%), reported this Monday the World Bank (WB).

These two Latin American countries are on the list of those in which the increase exceeds 30% year-on-year, according to the monthly update of the WB report on food security. Others also appear such as Egypt, Iran, Lebanon, Nigeria and Pakistan.

Overall, between 60 and 80% of the poorest or developing countries have experienced food price increases of more than 5%, in some cases even exceeding 10% this year.

Advanced economies are not spared either: the price of food increases more than inflation in 64% of these nations, although it is beginning to slow down in the European Union.

In the year-on-year measurement, corn prices have increased by 28% and wheat prices by 35%. Rice, a staple food in many countries, increased 39% year-on-year.

Corn and wheat remain below the highs recorded in January 2021, when the Covid-19 pandemic and the end of lockdowns disrupted global supply chains; but rice is still 19% more expensive than in January 2021.

– Latin America -Apart from Argentina and Venezuela, two countries with deep economic crises, the increase in food prices in Latin America and the Caribbean was variable: Bolivia 5.3%, El Salvador 6%, Honduras 9.3% , Nicaragua 8.6%, Brazil 0.9%, Colombia 11.2%, Dominican Republic 9%, Ecuador 7.5%, Guatemala 7.4%, Mexico 5.9%, Panama 2.4%, Paraguay 4 %, Peru 8.8%, Chile 8% and Uruguay 4.7%. In Costa Rica, on the contrary, they fell (-3.3%).

One of the factors that can trigger the rise in food prices in the region is the El Niño meteorological phenomenon, which influences the increase or decrease in rainfall and therefore agriculture.

El Niño tends to reach its peak between October and February, but it has already influenced the high temperatures reached in August and September in countries such as Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil and Paraguay, recalls the World Bank.

The organization is also concerned about the food situation in East Africa, especially in Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan.

In total, 62 million people in these countries are at risk of food insecurity in the next six months, it warns.

The WB also expresses concern about the Gaza Strip, where 63% of the population was already in a situation of food insecurity before the outbreak of the war between Israel and Hamas.

The conflict began after 1,400 people, mainly civilians, were killed in an attack on October 7 by Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, a territory under strict Israeli blockade since the movement took power in 2007.

Since October 9, Israel has imposed a "total siege" on Gaza, cutting off water, electricity and food supplies, with little humanitarian aid trucks arriving from Egypt.

According to Hamas' Health Ministry, more than 8,300 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed in the Gaza Strip by Israeli bombing since the start of the war.

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