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Food markets are sound, could face turbulence-FAO

MILAN, Sept 7 (Reuters) - Food market fundamentals are sound and different from 2007/08 when shortages sparked riots in a number of countries, although the international community should tackle future volatility, a senior UN official said on Tuesday.

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation Assistant-Director General Hafez Ghanem reiterated FAO comments last week that the world was not headed for a repeat of the 2007/2008 food crisis. [ID:nLDE6820XU]

“As I said the elements for a crisis do not appear to be there. But in the years ahead we’ll probably be seeing more of the turbulence we are experiencing now,” he said in comments in an interview published on the FAO’s website.

Three factors are boosting volatility: increasing cereal production in the Black Sea region where yields fluctuate greatly from one season to the next; extreme weather linked to climate change; and growing importance of non-commercial actors in commodity markets, he said.

“Given the importance of food markets in fighting hunger and ensuring economic stability FAO feels that the international community, perhaps under the leadership of the G20, should start looking at ways of dealing with higher volatility,” he said.

Talks could look at improved market regulation, establishing an appropriate level of emergency stocks, and ways to ensure efficient international trade in food products, he said.

Export bans, such as that imposed last montyh by Russia on wheat, should be avoided as they create market instability, he said.

The FAO has called an emergency meeting for Sept. 24 in Rome for governments to confront weaknesses in the global food system and find ways to boost reserves. [ID:nLDE6860MY] (Writing by Nigel Tutt; editing by Keiron Henderson)