Soaring Food Prices Could Spread Unrest To Central Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa

Spiking food prices are pushing tens of millions of people throughout the globe into poverty, and threaten to spread unrest in the Middle East further afield to sub-Saharan Africa and Central Asia, according to the head of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick.

“I’m concerned that higher food prices add to stress points and could add to the fragility that is already and always there any time you have revolutions and transitions,” said Zoellick. “What I’m actually more concerned about is looking ahead. As you see, Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan, other societies, struggle to try to develop responses to these social and public pressures.”

in the months since June 2010, 44 million people have fallen into poverty as a direct result of increasing food prices, according to World Bank Vice President for Poverty Reduction Otaviano Canuto.

In fact, “the increase over the last quarter is driven largely by increases in the price of sugar (20 percent), fats and oils (22 percent), wheat (20 percent), and maize (12 percent),” wrote Canuto.

Food prices are just three percentage points under the 2008 peak that saw bread riots across the world — including the Middle East and North Africa.

Analysts are now concerned that spiking food prices will not only exacerbate poverty rates, but also stoke the fires of instability that have engulfed the Middle East.

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