The UN World Food program issued a warning this week that rising food prices in El Salvador and the rest of Central America are increasing problems of hunger among the poor:
As food prices have surged, the most vulnerable have seen dinner-table portions grow smaller, calorie intake decline and basic nutrients reduced.
“At this stage it is still premature to provide figures, but we fear a deepening nutritional crisis among the poorest segments of the population, those already food and nutritionally insecure,” says WFP El Salvador Country Director Carlo Scaramella who is coordinating a regional study of the impact of recent rising prices in the Central America.
“At the same time, what we are seeing is the emergence of a new group of nutritionally and food-insecure people among the poorest strata of the population.
"These people have seen their access to food diminish as a result of the rising prices of basic commodities like corn, wheat, rice and beans. It’s a new phenomenon that may likely affect many people across Central America,” he said.
Initial estimates are that as a result of the recent skyrocketing market prices, the actual calorie intake of an average meal in rural El Salvador is today roughly 60 percent of what it was in May of 2006.
“This inevitably means the risk of new and deepening under-nutrition, as well as potentially a setback in the overall anti-poverty strategy in the country,” says Scaramella....
The situation has been particularly harsh in Central America where in the past year the prices of wheat and corn have nearly doubled. The price of beans, a key staple, has also reached unprecedented levels largely due to unfavourable weather conditions.
The volatility has caused some grain vendors in the capital city San Salvador to not even bother to putting up signs advertising the prices of corn and beans because they change so frequently. (more)