World Food Crisis Looming

Josette Sheeran, the executive director of the World Food Programme, is warning that the current financial meltdown is deflecting people's attention away from a looming world food crisis.

"I think the world would like to focus on one crisis at a time, but we really can't afford to," Sheeran is quoted as saying by Reuters.

The WFP relies on donations, receiving $5 billion in 2008, before the financial crisis started. This year it is looking for $6 billion for food aid to 77 of the world's poorest countries.

So far however it has received just a tenth of that.

Sheeran said that she is concerned that donations will dry up as the world's wealthier countries concentrate on their own problems.

"We're in an era now where (food) supplies are still very tight, very low, and very expensive," Sheeran said.

Countries like Kyrgyzstan rely heavily on income sent home by it's citizens working abroad. As the global financial crisis worsens, this income is drying up as migrant workers lose their foreign employment. Kyrgyzstan has subsequently been forced to ask the WFP for help this year for the first time since 1992.

The WFP say that they are looking at plans to develop some kind of strategic world grain stock to help poor countries who can't compete when panic buying kicks in as was witnessed in early 2008.

But with only a tenth of the money required so far in the kitty where is the cash going to come from?