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World Bank earmarks $30bn to avert global food crisis

. Pledges $12bn to fund projects in low income countries

The World Bank yesterday, said it has earmarked $30 billion to avert global food insecurity over the next 15 months.

The sum will cover new and existing projects such as innovative agriculture, water and irrigation schemes, and higher welfare payments to the poorest families.

The Bank also plans to spend about $12billion to support low-income countries hit by shortages of food and fertilisers, which pushed prices higher since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, according to a statement on Wednesday.

This is in addition to the $18.7 billion in existing projects with direct links to food and nutrition security issues that have been approved but have not yet been disbursed.

This follows a recent warning from the UN World Food Programme (WFP) about high prices leading to social unrest.

The World Bank said the $12billion pledge would raise its overall commitment of unspent funds to $30billion, from a budget of $170billion, as it seeks to prevent low-income countries from being hit by famine and political unrest.

Countries should make concerted efforts to increase the supply of energy and fertilizer, help farmers increase plantings and crop yields, and remove policies that block exports and imports, divert food to biofuel, or encourage unnecessary storage.

The statement reads in part: “The World Bank is working with countries on the preparation of $12 billion of new projects for the next 15 months to respond to the food security crisis,” the statement reads.

“These projects are expected to support agriculture, social protection to cushion the effects of higher food prices, and water and irrigation projects, with the majority of resources going to Africa and the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and South Asia.

“In addition, the World Bank’s existing portfolio includes undisbursed balances of $18.7 billion in projects with direct links to food and nutrition security issues, covering agriculture and natural resources, nutrition, social protection, and other sectors.

“Altogether, this would amount to over $30 billion available for implementation to address food insecurity over the next 15 months. This response will draw on the full range of Bank financing instruments and be complemented by analytical work.”

If we’re not there with a safety net programme, then the political extremists or whatever the case may be, will exploit that. Next thing you know, you’ve got riots, famine, destabilisation and then mass migration by necessity.

Urgent action

Commenting, World Bank President, David Malpass, said food price increases are having devastating effects on the poorest and most vulnerable.

He noted that to increase next season’s production, there is a need to lower trade barriers, a more efficient use of fertilisers, and “repurposing public policies and expenditures to better support farmers and output.”

He also urged governments “To inform and stabilise markets, it is critical that countries make clear statements now of future output increases in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Countries should make concerted efforts to increase the supply of energy and fertilizer, help farmers increase plantings and crop yields, and remove policies that block exports and imports, divert food to biofuel, or encourage unnecessary storage.”

Recently, WFP’s Executive Director, David Beasley, had warned that war, extreme weather and COVID-19 are driving global food prices to levels “that will cause social unrest in some parts of the world.”

“If we’re not there with a safety net programme, then the political extremists or whatever the case may be, will exploit that,” he said, adding: “Next thing you know, you’ve got riots, famine, destabilisation and then mass migration by necessity.

“…We believe everyone deserves access to information that’s grounded in science and truth, and analysis rooted in authority and integrity. That’s why we made a different choice: to keep our reporting open for all readers, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay. This means more people can be better informed, united, and inspired to take meaningful action.”

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