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BW Businessworld

Political Will Needed...

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Governments cannot rely on market forces to counter soaring world food prices and will need political will to boost agricultural production, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) chief said on Friday.
"In a classical rural economy they say that when prices go up, production also rises, bringing prices down," Jacques Diouf told reporters in Brazil's capital, where the FAO is holding a conference on Latin America and the Caribbean.
"This will not happen in this case because, in poor countries, farmers will face difficulties in having access to seeds, fertilizers and food for cattle."
High prices, driven by bad harvests and record fuel costs, have triggered riots and violence in poor and developing countries including Haiti and Indonesia, especially those that rely on imports for the bulk of food supplies.
The FAO warned last week that food riots will spread unless



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world leaders take major steps to reduce prices for the poor. "What will happen will depend on political will and on human action," Diouf said. "If we put more money into farming, particularly family farming, if we can assure poor producers have access to raw materials and inputs we can change the situation," he said, adding this cannot be done in days.
The director-general of FAO declined to comment on biofuels, saying the issue will be discussed in a special conference to be held in Rome in June.
Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva this week rejected growing criticism that biofuels, of which Brazil is a major producer, are partly responsible for high food prices because its production competes with food crops.

(Reuters)