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Supply, Price of Food Increase Hardship for World’s Poor

Food shortages and price spikes have combined to wreak havoc within the world's poorest nations. Ray Suarez examines the causes and effects of the food crises and speaks with the Washington Post's Anthony Faiola about his recent trip to Mauritania.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Now, the causes and effects of the growing global food crisis. Ray Suarez has our conversation.

  • RAY SUAREZ:

    The food shortages and huge rise in prices gripping the world's poorest countries are among the worst seen in a generation.

    The problems are so serious that U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon warned today it could spark a cascade of international crises affecting trade, growth, even political security.

    For a closer look at the causes and impact, we check in with Anthony Faiola of the Washington Post. He's part of a team of reporters writing a series of articles on the food crisis. He recently visited Mauritania in northwest Africa to see the impact there.

    And let's begin right there in Mauritania. Is this a country that produces enough food to feed its own people?

  • ANTHONY FAIOLA, Washington Post:

    Absolutely not. It's a country that, on the edge of the Sahara, straddling the worlds of black and Arab Africa, is forced to import approximately 70 percent of its food supply.

    It has only .2 percent arable land in the entire country. And with desertification, the Sahara is encroaching more and more every day on the few places that it does have that are fertile.

    So this is a country that's clearly dependent on the global marketplace for its food.