The Federal Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has launched a $17 million initiative for technical and policy assistance to help farmers increase food production in poor countries affected by high food prices.

Field activities are starting in Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Mozambique and Senegal.

FAO will also help governments prepare actions and strategies to increase agricultural production.

In collaboration with the World Food Programme and other partners, FAO will establish a food market information unit to pull together and analyze various data sources at local, national and international levels.

Prices of bread, rice, corn products, milk, oil, soybeans and others basic foods have increased sharply in recent months in a number of developing countries despite policy measures, including export restrictions, subsidies, tariff reductions and price controls, taken by governments of both cereal importing and exporting countries to limit the impact of international prices on domestic food markets.

Food riots have been reported in Egypt, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Madagascar, the Philippines and Haiti in the past month. In Pakistan and Thailand, army troops have been deployed to avoid seizing of food from the fields and from warehouses.