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Food: Prices

Volume 475: debated on Wednesday 7 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps the Government have taken to mitigate the effects of rising food prices on the populations of developing countries in the last 12 months. (203532)

The UK Government are very concerned about the effects of rising food prices on the poorest. There are already 850 million who do not get enough to eat, and as prices rise this number will increase. Our response has been short-term humanitarian aid to those most seriously affected as well as medium and longer-term strategies to assist the hungry.

Provisional figures for the 12 months up to March 2008 indicate that the Department for International Development (DFID) spent £342 million on humanitarian programmes, and much of this will have helped mitigate the effects of high food prices. A further £30 million was pledged to the World Food programme (WFP) last week. Our approach has prioritised protecting the extreme poor from the effects of high food prices. In Africa, DFID spent £50 million over the last year on social safety net programmes, which reach 10 million people in Ethiopia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Kenya. As part of our longer term work, DFID spends around £120 million a year directly on agriculture to help increase food production. Last week we announced an additional £400 million over the next five years to be spent on agricultural research.