Global food prices will remain high as underinvestment in agriculture over decades has left supplies unable to meet demand.

“We are just depleting our stocks and now we have this high population growth” says Kanayo F Nwanze, president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). “Prices won’t come down overnight. They are going to stay high for some time to come.”

Global food costs tracked by the United Nations increased in June for the 10th time in the past 12 months, staying near a record on higher rice, sugar and dairy prices, while meat reached an all-time high. Aid to agriculture dropped to 4.3% of total assistance in 2008 from 18% in 1979, according to IFAD data.

“Food price crisis, food price hikes or food price volatility is not just a simple consequence of shortage of food because of weather conditions and climate change,” says Nwanze. “A primary cause is we’ve disinvested in agriculture over decades.”

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