ISLAMABAD - Global food prices are poised to keep climbing even after jumping to a record high in August placing the heaviest burden on vulnerable populations while adding to headwinds for the global economic recovery. Addressing as keynote speaker at a seminar titled “Impact of Food, Oil and Gas prices on Pak Economy in the wake of Russia-Ukraine Conflict” held under the aegis of ‘Gold Ring Economic Forum’ Coordinator to Federal Tax Ombudsman Meher Kashif Younis said on Sunday that food prices rose 23.1 percent last year globally, the fastest pace in more than a decade, the highest since 1961. Now war in Ukraine and sanctions on Russia are upending shipments and possibly production for two of the world’s largest agricultural producers, he added. He said the both countries account for nearly 30 percent of the world wheat exports and 18 percent of corn, most of which is shipped through Black Sea ports that’s now closed. In South Asia, wheat accounts for only 7 percent versus 42 percent for rice, for which price increases so far have been relatively contained, he added. He said reduced fertilizer supplies and higher oil prices bound to increase costs for harvesting, transport, and processing food. Meher Kashif Younis said policy makers must prevent those pressures from fuelling food insecurity by avoiding protectionism and increasing social assistance for the poorest. China which holds more than half of global wheat and corn reserves, could consider releasing supplies to Pakistan to lower prices, he suggested. He feared if conflict lasted long, more countries including Pakistan will be confronted with grave challenges. He said future fuel hikes would be detrimental to Pakistan as its bleak economy cannot absorb such shocks. He said the construction industry has also taken a hit because Pakistan was importing steel from Ukraine. Also Pak exports to Ukraine have ceased, which will harm local industries and economy, he viewed.