Global food production must rise by 50% by 2030 in order to meet soaring demand, the UN Secretary General said today (3 June).

Addressing the UN Food Summit in Rome, Ban Ki-Moon said urgent agreement was needed on world trade talks and appealed to countries to avoid trade restrictions that are pushing up food prices.

"The world needs to produce more food," Ban said. "Some countries have taken action by limiting exports or by imposing price controls. They only distort markets and force prices even higher."

While drought, rising demand in growing economies like China and India, and biofuels production have pushed up commodity prices, a series of export restrictions and import tariffs in producer countries has worsened the situation.

The price of rice, for example, has hit record highs as the world's largest producers, including China, India and Vietnam have cut exports and stockpiled supplies.

Ban cited World Bank estimates that suggest up to 950m people could be short of food amid what he termed as a "global food crisis".

Ban said: "The poorest of the poor spend two-thirds or more of their income on food. They will be hardest hit. I have seen this for myself. In Liberia recently, I met people who would normally buy rice by the bag. Today, they buy it by the cup."

Last month, the Secretary General set up a UN task force to deal with the crisis. Ban said the unit had recommended that countries "improve vulnerable people's access to food and take immediate steps to increase food availability in their communities".

As well as reducing trade restrictions, Ban said nations should boost farmer food production, improve food security and expand food aid.

"Beggar thy neighbour food policies cannot work," Ban told the summit. "I call on nations to resist such measures and to immediately resist exports designated for humanitarian purposes."