( dpa ) - Ministers from developing countries called Sunday for the international community to beef up its response to soaring food prices that are threatening to destroy a decade of progress in reducing poverty.
In a series of statements ahead of the World Bank's traditional spring meeting, ministers called for a concerted response to what the bank has said is an 83-per-cent surge in food prices over the last three years.
Indian Finance Minister P Chidambaram put the blame squarely on the use of bio-fuels that use food crops as an alternative energy source and called on industrial nations to cut off all subsidies for such bio-fuel production.
"In a world where there is hunger and poverty, there is no policy justification for diverting food crops towards bio-fuels," Chidambaram said.
World Bank President Robert Zoellick warned last week that the food crisis could set back poverty reduction in the world's poorest nations by seven years, and called for developed countries to meet a 500-million-dollar aid shortfall at the World Food Programme.
British Chancellor of the Exchequer Alastair Darling said that a key element of Sunday's Development Committee meeting would involve how to "mitigate the negative impact of high commodity prices on the poor in particular."
He called for a "fully coordinated (international) response to the market turbulence and commodity prices."
Hundreds of thousands of people are facing starvation, and 33 countries are threatened with social unrest, the World Bank said this week.
The World Bank on Saturday promised a 10-million-dollar grant to subsidize food in Haiti, where a week of riots led to the sacking of the government of Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis.
Nigerian Finance Minister Shamsuddeen Usman called on the World Bank and international community to "urgently support" efforts to meet the food needs of the most vulnerable people, the majority of whom are in Africa.