Bloomberg News

JPMorgan Joins World Bank in $400 Million Food Hedging Program

June 21, 2011

June 21 (Bloomberg) -- JPMorgan Chase & Co. and the World Bank will provide as much as $400 million to developing nations for hedging their trade in agricultural supplies after record global food prices pushed 44 million more people into poverty.

The credit will come equally from New York-based JPMorgan and the World Bank’s International Finance Corp. and allow for as much as $4 billion of hedging, the World Bank said in a statement today. The funds are available to producers, consumers, cooperatives and local banks.

“High, uncertain and volatile food prices are the single gravest threat facing the most vulnerable in the developing world,” World Bank President Robert Zoellick said in the statement. “People are hungry for food and for action on a global level.”

Group of 20 farm ministers meet in Paris this week to discuss proposals to share information on stockpiles, eliminate export restrictions, create emergency food stocks for the poorest nations and reduce commodity price swings. World food output will have to rise 70 percent by 2050 as the global population climbs to 9.2 billion from an estimated 6.9 billion in 2010, the United Nations says.

The World Bank wants to get other lenders involved in its Agriculture Price Risk Management product, extending credit to those in emerging markets who would not normally be able to pay for hedging. Stable prices will help farmers get financing to expand output and ensure “reasonable access” to food for consumers, the Washington-based bank said.

Central Database

The G-20 ministers should agree to establish a central database on the quality and quantity of global grain stocks, which would reduce price swings by avoiding panic-buying, Zoellick said in the statement. They should also exempt humanitarian aid from export bans, he said.

Growth in rice and wheat yields in developing countries, representing about 80 percent of the global population, has slowed to 1 percent a year, from 3 percent in the 1970s, Zoellick said. Unless action is taken to mitigate climate change, agricultural yields may drop 16 percent over the next half century, he said.

“We need to be creative about farming, so there are not only more crops but more resilient crops,” Zoellick said. There are almost 1 billion hungry people in the world, he said.

World food prices rose 37 percent in the past 12 months, reaching a record in February, according to an index of 55 commodities from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization. That helped push 44 million people into poverty in the past year, defined as those living on less than $1.25 a day.

--Editors: Claudia Carpenter, John Deane

To contact the reporter on this story: Stuart Wallace in London at swallace6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stuart Wallace in London at swallace6@bloomberg.net


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