World Food Needs

November 1, 1974

Report Outline
Alarm Over Global Food Situation
Roots of the Present Food Problem
Search for Ways to Meet Rising Needs
Special Focus

Alarm Over Global Food Situation

Uncertainty That Grain Stocks Will Be Adequate

The World Food Conference in Rome, Nov. 5–16, has been called by the United Nations at a time when the world seems to be moving into a critically food-short period, perhaps the most severe in history. It will be the first such conference ever held on a political level, a fact that points up the priority that most nations now accord the reality or prospect of food shortages. While experts disagree on how serious the crisis is, and on steps needed to overcome it, there is general agreement on the basic facts:

In the past two years, world grain stocks have plummeted to their lowest levels since the end of World War II. According to calculations made by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the wheat stocks of the leading wheat-exporting nations fell from 49 million tons in 1971–1972 to 29 millions tons in 1972–1973.

Food prices have reached new highs. Addeke Boerma, director-general of FAO, predicted the food import bill of the developing countries will amount to $10 billion this year, in contrast to $4 billion last year.

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