Food stockpiling not best to curb prices

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Building strategic agricultural stocks to curb market volatility, as proposed by France, is not the most effective way to tame food prices, EU Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs said on Monday.

"I believe it is one of the instruments but it is not the most effective," Piebalgs told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of an international cooperation conference in Milan.

"The answer to food insecurity is sufficient food production in the world's poorest regions," he said, adding that increasing investments in agriculture was the best way to keep a lid on prices.

"Resilience in farming, access to water, fighting against climate change, crops, access to the markets -- it's a lot of elements, one element does not help sufficiently," he said.

The worst drought in more than 50 years in the United States has sent corn and soybean prices to record highs over the summer and, coupled with drought in Russia and other Black Sea exporting countries, has raised fears of a global food crisis like the one that led to rioting in poor countries in 2008.

Food prices have fallen back in the past few weeks but Piebalgs said there was no room for complacency.

"Globally food prices are now not a matter of concern in the short term but there are problems in Sahel, continuing problems in the Horn of Africa and other regions," he said, also mentioning Haiti. "The situation remains very vulnerable." (Reporting by Silvia Aloisi; Editing by Anthony Barker)



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