World 'dangerously close' to new food crisis
The bill for global food imports will top $1 trillion this year for the second time, putting the world "dangerously close" to a new food crisis, according to the United Nations.
The warning by the world body's Food and Agriculture Organization adds to fears about rising inflation in emerging countries from China to India.
The report said it was crucial that farm production - particularly of corn and wheat - "expand substantially" in 2011-12 to meet expected demand and rebuild world reserves.
"This could limit individual crop production responses to levels that would be insufficient to alleviate market tightness.
Agricultural commodities prices have surged after a series of crop failures caused by bad weather.
The situation was aggravated when top producers such as Russia and Ukraine imposed export restrictions, prompting importers in the Middle East and North Africa to hoard supplies.
The FAO's food index, a basket tracking the wholesale cost of wheat, corn, rice, oilseeds, dairy products, sugar and meats, jumped last month to levels last seen at the peak of the 2007-08 crisis.