Food Scarcity and Food Shortages Are Making Countries More Selfish

By Alison Withers

Regulations which fixed prices so that in a bad year farmers' incomes were protected while in good ones, they might lose out slightly at one time kept food prices largely stable, based on supply and demand.

Lobbying by financial stock traders during the 1990s let to the abolition of food price regulation on basic crops.

Crops then became something to be traded like any other commodity such as coal,oil and others. Suddenly in 2006 food prices started rising dramatically leading to food riots in some countries by 2008 and forcing more than 200 million people into malnutrition or starvation.

At the time it was thought that the causes were largely to do with slowing food production and the competition for land between biofuel and food crops, but more recent research by the Centre for Economic Studies in Delhi has found that actually global wheat production had increased while demand fell by about 3%.

Even allowing for the finite global acreage of farmland and projected population increases the technology already exists to increase crop yield in a sustainable way using the new generation of low-chem agricultural products being devised by Biopesticides Developers.

But (how could anyone possibly forget) the Autumn of 2008 was when the credit crunch really hit hard, mortgages and the housing market collapsed and financial houses no longer found trading in derivatives based on property viable or attractive, so traders switched their attention to other commodities, particularly food.

Even now, therefore, food availability and price issues are still critical for low income countries around the world.

Food and Agriculture Organisation figures for 2009 stated that more than a billion people around the world did not have enough to eat and 65 per cent of the world's hungry live in only seven countries: India, China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan and Ethiopia.

The OneWorld network Is an international foundation set up as a charity in 2003 to promote a vision of a world where resources are shared fairly and sustainably, where human rights are nurtured and protected, and where democratic governance structures enable people to shape their own lives.

In a report on its website oneworld.net in early June 2010 it said that unprecedented food scarcity is beginning to dictate the rules of a new global political order where individual countries are rushing to secure their own future food supplies with little concern for the rest of the world, "the troublesome portents of an entirely new chapter in the book of food security."

It means the vision of a world where resources are shared fairly and sustainably is under severe threat as countries increasingly act in their own national interests by buying or leasing land overseas to grow crops and feed their people.

For example, China has contracted land in Laos, Kazakhstan, Tanzania, Brazil and others. India is looking towards on Uruguay and Paraguay, while Libya and Egypt have been negotiating deals to lease land in Ukraine.

Rice prices have almost tripled in Asia this year and India, Vietnam, Indonesi and China have moved to restrict exports to protect domestic consumers while China has become a net grain importer.

In the Indian state of Kerala there is a yearly widening gap between production and requirement of food grain caused by a combination of rising prices and more farmers retreating from farming because of a growing gulf between investment and revenue - there is a 11% annual increase in farmers' agriculture-related expenses while the price for farming products has only risen by 6%.

The plight of debt-ridden farmers in Andhra Pradesh, where there have been steep rises in suicides among small farmers following the reduction of grain subsidies, has been well rehearsed.

Add to that the unpredictability of the climate each year making it more difficult to plan the yearly farming cycle and the outlook for food prices continues to look grim.


Article by Alison Withers
The aim of a fair world where everyone has enough to eat is receding as commodity trading keeps crop prices artificially high and countries to compete to lease land elsewhere to ensure adequate food supplies for their people. Yet the new low-chem agricultural products being devised by Biopesticides Developers could help avoid that, argues consumer journalist Ali Withers. www.agraquest.com

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