Page last updated at 11:07 GMT, Thursday, 1 May 2008 12:07 UK

Nepal acts to stop food shortages

Man carries sack of rice in Manila
Global rice prices have risen by more than 90% in the past year

Nepal has banned the export of rice and other grains to try to control food costs and prevent shortages.

Nepal is not a major producer of food items but it exports some wheat and Basmati rice to China and Bangladesh.

Reports say rice prices in Nepal, which relies on imports from India, have gone up by nearly 30% this year.

In recent months India increased the price of rice exports. Then on 1 April it banned the export of non-Basmati rice completely.

Rising prices for rice, wheat and other foodstuffs have been hitting poorer people in South Asia badly.

Global food fears

Nepal harvested about 4.3 million tonnes of rice last year, the Reuters news agency reports.

A Nepalese official said the ban on exports was to "rein in price hikes and avoid any food crisis".

This week United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he was setting up a task force to tackle the global food crisis.

Mr Ban said the world faced "widespread hunger, malnutrition and social unrest on an unprecedented scale" because of soaring food prices.

He said the priority was to feed the hungry by closing a $755m (380m) funding gap for the UN's World Food Programme (WFP) this year.

He urged donor countries to make more money available now.

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