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World food prices are likely to rise for a third successive month in March, and could gain further beyond that, with expensive oil and chronically low stocks of some key grains putting food inflation firmly back on the economic agenda.

Food prices grabbed world policy makers' attention after hitting record highs in February 2011 and stoking protests connected to the Arab Spring wave of civil unrest in some north Africa and middle eastern countries.

Prices later receded, but an upturn which began in January, initally seen as a pause in the overall downtrend, has persisted.