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UN Helps E Timor Avoid Reach Of Global Food Crisis

UN helps Timor-Leste avoid long reach of global food crisis

14 May 2008 - The United Nations is assisting Timor-Leste's Government to keep the price of rice as low as possible as part of its efforts to minimize the impact of the global food crisis on the young and impoverished country.

Worldwide, the price of rice has skyrocketed by 200 per cent in the past 12 months, surging from around 40 cents for one kilogram six months ago to about $1.20 to $1.30 today.

To date, Timor-Leste has 7,500 tons of rice in stock, while it will import an additional 16,000 tons.

"We estimate that these food stocks will last for the immediate foreseeable future," said Finn Reske-Nielsen, Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General. "This short-term solution will provide time for the Government to work on medium and long-term solutions."

The Government's rice reserves and imports on the market have helped dampen price surges, with the current price hovering at around 50 to 60 cents per kilogram.

"We do not see a danger of starvation in Timor-Leste," Mr. Reske-Nielsen told reporters in Dili. "The Timorese have access to rice and other foods."

Nearly one-third of the rice consumed in the young nation, which the world body helped shepherd to independence in 2002, is grown in Timor-Leste, and it also produces maize and cassava.

"Therefore there is no cause for alarm: the situation we are seeing elsewhere is not the situation we are seeing in Timor-Leste," the Special Representative observed.


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