- Wheat prices are up over 50 percent since mid-June;
- The price for corn has risen more than 45 percent since mid-June; and
- Soybeans are up almost 30 percent since the beginning of June and up almost 60 percent since the end of last year.
The World Bank is ready to help governments respond to a broad based run up grain prices that has again put the world’s poorest people at risk and could have lingering detrimental impacts for years. A severe drought in the U.S. Midwest has cut projected grain yields dramatically, reviving memories of 2008 when a sharp increase in food prices caused riots in some countries and raised questions about the use of crops to make biofuels. Wheat prices have jumped more than 50% ad corn prices more than 45% since mid-June, with dry conditions in Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan, excessively wet weather in Europe and a below average start to the Indian monsoon season adding to global crop worries.
When food prices rise, families cope by pulling their kids out of school and eating cheaper, less nutritious food, which can have catastrophic life-long effects on the social, physical, and mental well being of millions of young people. The World Bank has number of programs to help governments should the situation worsen. Those include policy advice, increased agriculture and agriculture-related investment, fast-track financing, risk management products and work with the United Nations and private voluntary groups to help governments make more informed responses to global food price spikes. One of the most pernicious facts out there is that in the first thousand days of a child’s life, they develop 80 percent of their brains. So, malnutrition in those first thousand days has a long-lasting impact.