Hunger alert

Alarm has been sounded by the us Agriculture Department (usad) which, in its crop report for June, says that the world grain carryover stocks for 1996 are about to crashland to a record low level -- worth a mere 52 days of consumption. According to Lester R Brown, president of the Washington-based World Watch Institute, this will jack up international food prices, with an almost immediate hike in bread and cereal rates. The coming months could also see a rise in the prices of meat, poultry and milk.

The only way out of the mess is to increase production -- the world's farmers will have to expand their produce by 36 million tonnes.

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