ISLAMABAD: Consumer food price inflation in Pakistan was 45.1 percent in February 2023 on an annualized basis – the highest in South Asia after Sri Lanka at 54.4 percent, the World Bank said.
Across South Asia, domestic grain and wheat flour prices remain volatile in early 2023 and well above their annual levels, the bank said in its latest Food Security Update. In Pakistan, wheat flour prices hit a record high in January 2023 and were 20 to 140 percent higher year-on-year.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) attributes the high prices to generally stagnant production since 2018, inventory losses and disrupted trade flows due to flooding in 2022, high agricultural inputs and transport costs, and high headline inflation.
The CPI jumped 31.5 percent in February, the highest rate in 50 years
The report noted that in January 2023, annual consumer price inflation for food prices was 6.2 percent in India, 7.8 percent in Bangladesh and 5.6 percent in Nepal.
The report noted that rice production in 2022 rose thanks to increases in several countries, including India, despite reductions in Pakistan and Tanzania.
The US Department of Agriculture also forecasts a 4.5 percent drop in rice shipments as lower exports from Pakistan, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam should more than offset increases from India. Domestic food price inflation remains high worldwide.
Information from the latest month between October 2022 and February 2023 for which data on food price inflation is available shows high inflation in almost all low- and middle-income countries, with inflation levels above five percent in 94.1 percent of countries with low-income countries, 86 percent of lower-middle-income countries and 87 percent of upper-middle-income countries, and many of them face double-digit inflation.
Additionally, about 87.3 percent of high-income countries face high food price inflation. The most affected countries are in Africa, North America, Latin America, South Asia, Europe and Central Asia, the report states.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023