Zimbabwe remains highest on food price inflation globally says World Bank

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ZIMBABWE continues to lead the 10 countries with the highest food price rise globally despite a significant drop in its year-on-year food inflation, a World Bank report has revealed.

According to its latest report on food security, the World Bank revealed that there was an increase in almost all low- and middle-income countries, with Zimbabwe clinching first position.

Domestic food price inflation measured as year-on-year change in the food component of a country’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) remains high.

Zimbabwe’s figures on year-on-year nominal food inflation and real food inflation dropped from 321 % to 264% and from 52 % to 41 % respectively.

“Domestic food price inflation remains high around the world. Information from the latest month between October 2022 and February 2023 shows high inflation in almost all low- and middle-income countries.

“With inflation levels above 5% in 94.1% of low-income countries, 86% of lower-middle-income countries, and 87.0% of upper-middle-income countries and many experiencing double-digit inflation.

“In addition, about 87.3% of high-income countries are experiencing high food price inflation. The countries affected most are in Africa, North America, Latin America, South Asia, Europe, and Central Asia,” read the World Bank report.

Global food prices, according to the report, despite having fallen from historic peaks, remain high and tew export restrictions could send prices soaring again.

“One year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, many of those export-limiting measures have lapsed, and high prices mostly reflect broad global inflation, but the number of restrictions remaining in place is still troubling; 101 export restrictions—including quotas, licenses, and outright bans—are still being enforced, contrary to World Trade Organization principles that the limits should be temporary.”

It has been estimated that those restrictions covered more than 11% of global food trade in 2022, with export bans alone responsible for 3.8%.

According to the report, although countries with a small share of food exports account for most of the remaining restrictions, even those are causing price distortions and should be lifted.

One year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) reviewed experiences of the past year and remaining uncertainties about food security in the future.

The war in Ukraine jeopardized more than one-third of the world wheat trade, 17% of the world maize trade, and almost 75% of the world sunflower trade, causing prices of wheat futures to jump almost 60% within a week of the war’s outbreak.

Corn and soybean prices were up more than 15%.

“Although the world faced the possibility of another food price crisis, the worst-case scenarios for agricultural trade and food security were largely averted, with prices falling back to pre-war levels by August 2022 because of efforts such as the partial re-opening of ports through the Black Sea Grain Initiative and an increase in global humanitarian efforts to mitigate the impacts of the war,” the report said.

According to the Global Report on Food Crisis 2022 Mid-year Update, up to 205 million people are expected to face acute food insecurity and to be in need of urgent assistance in 45 countries.