Archive for the ‘food shortages’ Category

Silent Tsunami: Food Prices Causing Misery, Strife Around the World

April 21, 2008

Apr 17th 2008
From The Economist print edition
.
PICTURES of hunger usually show passive eyes and swollen bellies. The harvest fails because of war or strife; the onset of crisis is sudden and localised. Its burden falls on those already at the margin.

Today’s pictures are different. “This is a silent tsunami,” says Josette Sheeran of the World Food Programme, a United Nations agency. A wave of food-price inflation is moving through the world, leaving riots and shaken governments in its wake. For the first time in 30 years, food protests are erupting in many places at once. Bangladesh is in turmoil (see article); even China is worried (see article). Elsewhere, the food crisis of 2008 will test the assertion of Amartya Sen, an Indian economist, that famines do not happen in democracies.

Famine traditionally means mass starvation. The measures of today’s crisis are misery and malnutrition. The middle classes in poor countries are giving up health care and cutting out meat so they can eat three meals a day. The middling poor, those on $2 a day, are pulling children from school and cutting back on vegetables so they can still afford rice. Those on $1 a day are cutting back on meat, vegetables and one or two meals, so they can afford one bowl. The desperate—those on 50 cents a day—face disaster.

Roughly a billion people live on $1 a day. If, on a conservative estimate, the cost of their food rises 20% (and in some places, it has risen a lot more), 100m people could be forced back to this level, the common measure of absolute poverty. In some countries, that would undo all the gains in poverty reduction they have made during the past decade of growth. Because food markets are in turmoil, civil strife is growing; and because trade and openness itself could be undermined, the food crisis of 2008 may become a challenge to globalisation.

Read the rest:
http://www.economist.com/opinion/displayStory.cfm?Story_ID=11050146

Food Shortages, Global Hunger Pushing Nations

April 19, 2008

By David R. Sands
The Washington Times
April 19, 2008
.
China next week is doubling taxes on fertilizer exports to ensure supplies for domestic farmers. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak ordered the army to start baking bread after deadly riots broke out in lines people waiting for food. Oil-rich Libya is discussing a deal to essentially rent a chunk of land-rich Ukraine on which it can grow its own wheat.
.
With food and fuel prices soaring, the world’s haves and have-nots are not waiting for the free market or global institutions such as the World Bank to make sure their people have enough to eat.

A soldier delivers a bag containing food supplies to a man as ...
A soldier delivers a bag containing food supplies to a man as part of a government aid program in a shanty town on the outskirts of Lima early April 16, 2008.(Enrique Castro-Mendivil/Reuters)
.
“A lot of countries are in trouble right now,” said Lester Brown, veteran environmentalist and president of the Washington-based Earth Policy Institute. “We’re seeing various efforts made by countries to ensure they have the food inputs they need.”
.
Soaring prices for wheat, rice, corn, palm oils and other staples have sparked food riots and reports of hoarding on four continents. Haitian Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis was forced to step down last week because of violence linked to higher food costs, and U.N. and World Bank officials warn that more unrest is likely.
A Somali women carries a sack of food aid on her head to her ...
A Somali women carries a sack of food aid on her head to her makeshift home on the road along the Juba river in southern Somalia near the village of Jamame December 6, 2006. A cholera outbreak in Kenya has killed 67 people so far this year, while a fungus has wiped out up to 20 percent of the country’s annual rice production, United Nations agencies said on Friday.REUTERS/Stephen Morrison/Pool

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080419/FOREIGN/660699805/1001

China Hikes Tariffs to Stem Fertilizer Exports

April 17, 2008

BEIJING (Reuters) – China slapped massive tariffs on fertilizer exports on Thursday in a bid to control rapidly rising domestic agricultural costs and inflation, and above all to ensure it grows enough grain to feed its 1.3 billion people.

Beijing’s 100 percent-plus tariffs on some fertilizer exports should temper domestic costs but may drive up prices in world markets that depend on China’s supplies, the latest in a series of commodities-related protectionist moves around the world that risk fuelling rather than cooling global food costs.

File photo shows a Chinese farmer working in his field next ...
File photo shows a Chinese farmer working in his field next to a chemical factory near Yixing Town in Jiangsu province. The amount of farmland in China has shrunk to critical levels, state press reported on Thursday(AFP/File/Mark Ralston)

China’s anxiety is greater than most — it is struggling to grow enough corn and wheat to feed its multiplying urban eaters, and fears higher costs of fertilizer, diesel and labor might discourage farmers from planting grains, thereby raising feed costs for meat breeders and exacerbating inflation.

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/world/international-
china-fertiliser.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

Inflation and Food Shortages?

March 28, 2008

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
March 29, 2008

There could be darker clouds ahead as inflation in seval parts of the globe is causing governments to diminish food exports.

Today Vietnam, the world’s second-biggest rice exporter, said it would cut exports by 22% this year, following similar moves by India and Egypt.

Analysts said the government of Vietnam wanted to stabilise domestic food prices.

Farmers work in a rice field in Dong Anh District in Hanoi,Vietnam, ...
 Farmers work in a rice field in Dong Anh District in Hanoi,Vietnam, Wednesday, March 26, 2008. A sharp rise in the price of rice is hitting consumer pocketbooks and raising fears of public turmoil in the many parts of Asia where rice is a staple.(AP Photo/Chitose Suzuki)


Vietnam’s inflation hit an estimated 16.4 percent in the first quarter, the highest rate in 13 years, according to government figures. Food prices were a main component of the increase, rising 21.5 percent in the January-March period compared with the same months last year.

In December Vietnam’s inflation rate was 10%.

The BBC reported Global rice prices have soared by 50% in the past two months raising supply concerns across many sectors of the world.

AFP reported from Egypt today that an advisor to the Commerce Minister announced a cutback in rice exports.

“We have taken this decision to provide for the needs of the local market,” Sayyed Abul Komsan, advisor to Commerce Minister Mohammed Rashid, told AFP.

Workers clean rice for packing at a market. Egypt is to suspend ...
Workers clean rice for packing at a market. Egypt is to suspend rice exports for six months, from April until October, to try to meet the demands of its own people hit by soaring food prices.(AFP/File/Tang Chhin Sothy)

“Rice is a staple food in Egypt and the main substitute for dough whose price has gone up following wheat price rises on the international market,” he explained.

Thailand, the world’s largest rice exporter, could face a shortage of rice at home after skyrocketing prices world-wide have encouraged traders to substantially increase their export volumes, Prasert Kosalwit, the director-general of the Rice Department, said yesterday.

The Philippines and Cambodia already have rice shortages.  Both countries import most of their rice from Vietnam and Thailand.

China subsidies

While rice prices have risen primarily because of increasing demand from population growth, they have also been lifted by poor recent crops in Vietnam.

Vietnam has been battling with rice infection and a small invasion of insect pests for two crop seasons.  China has sid it fears its own rice harvest will be impacted.

Neighbouring Cambodia has also recently introduced limits on rice exports.

China is the world’s biggest rice producer, but almost all of its crop is kept for the domestic market.

With the world’s largest population to feed, Beijing keeps rice prices subsidised.

It said on Friday that it would now pay farmers more for both rice and wheat in an attempt to boost crop production and cool surging inflation.

Related:
 Vietnam rice troubles could affect region

Lowly Rice Grain Impacts Global Economy