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Hunger observatory
Latinamerica Press
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Food prices rise amid high oil prices and price gouging.

A recent report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says that high food prices have translated in higher inflation for Latin America and the Caribbean.

The FAOs Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbeans first monthly bulletin of the Regional Observatory of Food and Nutritional Safety, or Hunger Observatory, was released on July 4, noting that regional inflation ended 2007 at an average of 6.3 percent, just over 1 percentage point higher than in 2006.
Inflation in the region during the first six months of this year has reached 5 percent while food inflation is measured at 7.2 percent. Between July 2007 and June 2008, the accumulated inflation was 11.1 percent and 17.5 percent for food.

The report says that developing countries rapid growth in Latin America and the Caribbean, along with biofuel production, climate factors that affect production and the increase in raw materials for agriculture as a result of high oil prices have led to  higher food prices. Other factors include lower food reserves, commodities speculation and  policies to restrict food exportation.

Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Panama, Peru and Venezuela have each seen food prices rise at least 2 percent over general prices.

Though the region is currently better prepared than before to face economic crises, countries like Haiti, Honduras and Nicaragua — classified as low-income food-deficit countries — will experience a greater negative impact since food spending reaches 46 percent of their total spending, according to the report.

The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean estimates that the number of people living in extreme poverty in the region could rise 15 to 19 million due to the increase in food prices. Around 8.6 percent — some 50 million — of 580 million Latin Americans and Caribbeans live in extreme poverty.

The Hunger Observatory, part of the FAOs Latin America and Caribbean Without Hunger Initiative, is an information network supporting key decision-makers as they formulate public policies and programs in the region on to food and nutritional security.
—Latinamerica Press.

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