World food prices soared to an all-time high in March with the war in Ukraine driving up prices for wheat, maize and vegetable oils, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) says.

In a statement released in Rome last Friday, the FAO said its Rice Price Index was nevertheless little changed from February — and still 10 percent below its level in March last year.

But for other cereals, the war in the Black Sea region “spread shocks” across world food markets.

The FAO Food Price Index averaged 159.3 points in March — up 33.6 percent from a year earlier and 12.6 percent from February when it had already reached a record high.

The FAO said its Cereal Price Index leapt 17.1 percent from February, “driven by large rises in wheat and all coarse grain prices largely as a result of the war in Ukraine.”

Russia and Ukraine together accounted for 30 percent of global wheat exports and 20 percent of maize exports over the past three years, the UN agency said.

In March, world wheat prices soared 19.7 percent from February and maize prices jumped 19.1 percent, hitting a record high along with prices for barley and sorghum.

The UN agency said its Vegetable Oil Price Index rose 23.2 percent from February, “driven by higher quotations for sunflower seed oil, of which Ukraine is the world’s leading exporter.

“Palm, soy and rapeseed oil prices also rose markedly as a result of the higher sunflower seed oil prices and the rising crude oil prices, with soy oil prices further underpinned by concerns over reduced exports by South America.”

In a separate report released Friday, the FAO said Thailand had raised its rice production figures.

The increase is based on higher official assessments of the size of the 2020 harvest and a “strong area expansion in the 2021 secondary crop currently being harvested,” the FAO Cereal Supply and Demand Brief said.

“By contrast, output has been cut for Indonesia, where officials reported that the third cropping cycle, concluded at the close of 2021, yielded less than previously anticipated due to dryness and continued area diversions.

“As a result of these changes, world rice production in 2021 is now predicted to reach 520.3 million tonnes (milled basis), up 0.7 percent from 2020 and an all-time high.”

The FAO-hosted Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS) announced a day earlier that the world rice market was “generally subdued” in April.

Compared with March, average international prices for 5% broken rice were “mildly” higher. “Stronger gains were seen for lower-valued 100 percent broken grades amid heavy demand from Asian feed producers,” the AMIS Market Monitor for April said.

“Vietnamese offers firmed on rising production and transportation costs, while quotes in Thailand were little changed as a weaker local currency and some off-season crop arrivals offset support from sales to Iraq.”

“In India, sentiment was underpinned by strong purchasing of 100 percent broken rice, while high freight rates curtailed overall demand,” the monitor said.

AMIS is a Group of Twenty (G20) initiative launched by G20 Ministers of Agriculture in 2011 following global food price hikes in 2010 and 2008.

Cambodia became a member of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) in 1950. FAO Office was opened in Cambodia in 1979 as the Liaison Office and full Representation Office was opened in Phnom Penh in 1994.

Since 1979, the FAO Representation in Cambodia has contributed both emergency and technical assistance to the Royal Government of Cambodia in many areas including agricultural productivity, diversification, irrigation, animal production and health, fisheries, technical information management and statistics, food security, consumer protection and food safety, promotion of access to new markets, forestry, environment, climate change, Integrated Food Security Classification (IPC) and small-scale agro-industry.

Source: Agency Kampuchea Press

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