Since July 2010, prices of foodstuffs like wheat, milk, corn, soybeans, and rice have increased drastically; they are setting new prices records; the trend seems to be on the rise despite global efforts to manage them (Global Political Awakening). In the report, “7 Reasons Food Shortages Will Become a Global Crisis”, by Global Political Awakening report, writers note that ”Food inflation is here and it’s here to stay.
We can see it getting worse every time we buy groceries.” (Global Political Awakening, page 1). Food production in different countries has continued to decline; the decline is a result of a number of reasons that hinder production rates amidst an increasing world population.
Food dependency among countries is bringing the issue a notch higher with some countries enacting food protection policies to ensure their citizens can be fed by the little they produce; for example in 2009, Russia rationed its wheat exportation to secure enough food for its home population (Cohen and Clapp, page 227). This paper discusses why global food crisis will become true if something is not done about the increasing food shortage.
Russia and the United States in 2009 and 2010 have enacted policies that controlled exportation of wheat and corns respectively. According to the countries, their production rate had reduced in the period thus exporting the produce would mean that their countries will go without food for a period. In 2007, 35 million of the United States was believed to have been suffering from lack of food; according to UN FAQ reports of 2008, the world food reduced by after an increased by 9% in 2006 (Global Political Awakening page 1).
When the countries fail to export the products then the countries of importation will suffer a food deficit in two folds: one there will be minimal supply of foodstuffs and there will be increased prices for the available goods. U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization have noted the concerns that the world is likely to suffer from food shortages; they started the campaign of “urgent action”.
In Africa, one of the world continents known for its fertile soils and good climate, the effects of climatic changes have affected the countries that there is an alarming decrease in productivity. Countries like Ethiopia, Uganda, and Kenya have in the last two years being on need for food aids from other countries, things that were unheard of in the past. If the rate of food decrease continued, it is expected to become a global food crisis issue.
The world political environment and instability in some countries has lead to what scholars refer to as food wars: According to Himmelgreen and Satish “Individual food deprivation including energy proteins or micronutrients malnutrition is also a legacy of food wars” (Himmelgreen and Satish, page 16). However, what are the factors that have lead to the decrease and threatened chances of global food crisis. The factors are:
In modern industrialized world, weather pattern are no longer predictable, there have been damages of the environment to a level that the environment can hardly support full cycle of production. Global warming and environmental degradation by human beings as they exploit the world resources is the major contributor to changed weather patterns.
Rains that are the most depended for agriculture of food stuffs are no longer adequate and are not predictable. For example Russia has started to experience summer droughts and heat waves, that are hindering agricultural production, there have been ‘biblical flooding’ in Australia and Pakistan. The waves of changes and extreme weather have also been experienced in Europe and the United States where they have experienced some extreme winter cold, the situation is likely to increase the demand for foodstuffs in 2011.
When making foods, the service of insects and bees are crucial in facilitating fertilization; however in the recent past, bee colonies have reduced drastically; some are believed to have suffered from the drought and died while other are believed to have moved to other places in search of water. The result is a world that cannot cater for its food demand.
The world is recovering from global financial crisis that started in 2007; the strength of the dollar has reached a record down in many countries thus hampering international trade. When trade among countries has been hampered, then the world cannot have food security and some countries depend on others for their food supply. The weakening dollar has made foodstuff prices increase and they seem to be uncontrollable despite numerous efforts made by the government to reduce the loss of power in dollar.
The United States is the world’s largest economy and is believed to be the country where the crisis originated from; since a number of world currencies are pegged to the dollar, and then the effect is felt worldwide; some countries like China and Russia are dropping the dollar, during this transition period, things can only get worse.
Some people have become selfish and are benefiting their families are build their wealth from the little food available in the world; they are developing some cartels to regulate the flow of food in the world. When the cartels are doing their business, they are threatening food security in the world since they drive small-scale farmers from the net of production.
It is estimated that 75,000 edible plants are found in natural forests; when the forests are cleared for other uses of land, then such food cannot be found. With modern agriculture being so vulnerable to disease, pests and climate change, the importance of rainforests is becoming increasingly important like in South Africa in the 1920s when their sugarcane was affected by disease, a forest wild sugarcane species came in handy to save the industry from being ruined.
In Latin America, the coffee from Ethiopian forests (this was bush coffee) saved the coffee plantations. In Peru, Chile, and Ecuador the scientist have for long been cross breeding plants so as they can get those that are more resistant to diseases the climate.
The cross breed has been done with world plants. A good example in this is fruits. Forests play a major role in maintaining the food security and the world agriculture through climate change where forests boost agriculture in any given region as they increase the rainfall amounts that favor food production.
Pollution of soils and waters has resulted to death of microorganisms that live in them and facilitate growth of plants and animals. They have been done with fertilizers and other chemicals for cultivation. On the other hand, there is growth of hot sports in different parts of the world; the growth has affected the rate of productivity of lands and the places with the growing deforestation
The world unstable political environment has contributed to an increase is worlds fuel prices; when fuel prices has increased, then the cost of production is increased. Industries depend largely on fuel to produce various commodities thus when the prices are increased, the cost of food also increases. In 2008, the world recorded one of the higher cost of fuel it hit 147 per barrel; the increased cost of fuel made rice to triple in price in a period of six months alongside other food stuffs whose prices increased uncontrollably.
When the cost of fuels has been increased, they affect plowing fields, fertilizers and pesticides, to harvesting and hauling; the increased cost is transferred to the final consumer. In April 2011, the increase in fuel prices were sky high in Uganda forcing the Ugandan official opposition leader Kizza Besigye to lead the country to a walking nation where the people were supposed to walk to work in protest of increasing food prices.
In Kenya, Labor Day cerebrations where boycotted by people as they quoted that life was hard thus there was no need to celebrate Labor Day. Both in Uganda and Kenya, the prices of food commodities had increased because of the increased fuel prices. If the prices increase, the countries and other are likely to have food crisis eventually the world will suffer food shortage.
In production of food products, the methods of production adopted by different countries have adversely affected the sanity of soils making them less productive. Geo-engineering has reduced the productively of lands making them not reliable to feed the increasing world population. When chemical are introduced in soils, they interfere with the natural operation of soil thus reducing the productivity in the future (Himmelgreen and Satish page 76).
The world food security is threatened by changes in climate and reduced land productivity; soils productivity is adversely affected by geo-engineering by farmers as they try to increase their farms productively. If the trend is not checked, the world is at a risk of facing global food crisis. To reduce the chances of food crisis, the world should embark on environmental conservation, restoration and preservation measures; policies towards sustainable development should be enforced.
Cohen, Marc, and Clapp Jennifer. The global food crisis: governance challenges and opportunities. New Jersey: Wilfrid Laurier Univ. Press, 2009. Print.
Global Political Awakening. 7 Reasons Food Shortages Will Become a Global Crisis. 17 Jan. 2011. Web: 01 May 2010.
Himmelgreen, David, and Satish Kedia. The Global Food Crisis. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 2010.Print.