Page last updated at 04:19 GMT, Thursday, 10 April 2008 05:19 UK

Brown urges action on food prices

Gordon Brown
There have been warnings that rising prices could cause instability

Gordon Brown is calling on the chairman of the G8 group of industrialised nations to devise an international plan to deal with rising food prices.

He wants Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda to ask the World Bank, IMF and UN to work together on a strategy.

The British prime minister said the problem of hunger was growing for the first time in decade.

Mr Brown added that the cost of food was threatening to roll back progress made on development.

This week has seen warnings that soaring global food prices are not a temporary phenomenon, and that there are likely to be more food riots that could cause political instability.

'Elusive deal'

Five people have died in a week of rioting in Haiti, a rice importer and one of the world's poorest countries. Hungry rioters have demanded the government scrap all taxes on staples.

Mr Brown said the crisis had many elements and that he was demanding a full, co-ordinated response.

Short-term measures may include giving more support to food-importing developing countries and stepping up humanitarian aid.

The international community needs a fully co-ordinated response
Gordon Brown

Smallholders in poorer nations will also need help in boosting production, and the impact of the rapid expansion in the production of bio-fuels needs to be examined urgently, said Mr Brown.

The prime minister suggested concluding an elusive deal on the reform of global trade would help in tackling the crisis.

Mr Brown said: "Rising food prices threaten to roll back progress we have made in recent years on development. For the first time in decades, the number of people facing hunger is growing.

"The international community needs a fully co-ordinated response. We need both short-term action to deal with immediate hardship, and a medium-term response which will provide a framework for tackling the opportunities and challenges."

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