Archive for the ‘Hosni Mubarak’ Category

Global Food Crisis: Hungry in Egypt

April 21, 2008

By Jackson Diehl
The Washington Post
Monday, April 21, 2008; Page A15

….For more than half a century, the Arab world’s most populous country has been run by a military-backed dictatorship that has supplied its millions of poor with subsidized bread. Consequently, Egypt consumes more bread per capita than France, and the only time the regime’s power was seriously challenged came in 1977, when Anwar Sadat‘s attempt to cut bread subsidies provoked bloody riots.

Thirty years later, Egypt still has subsidized bread but also a free market, which siphons much of the bread away through corruption. As global prices have soared in the past year, cheap bread has been disappearing from Egyptian shops, and free-market prices have risen 48 percent. The predictable result came on April 6, when workers at the country’s largest textile factory, in the city of Mahalla el-Kubra, attempted to strike, only to be blocked by a massive deployment of security forces. Angry crowds took to the streets for two days. Schools and shops were burned, a huge billboard of President Hosni Mubarak was torn down and at least two people were killed when police opened fire.

Mubarak responded to the trouble the way the regime always has. His prime minister and a host of other officials rushed to the smoldering city to purchase peace. The textile workers were promised a month’s bonus pay and new health-care facilities for their town. Mubarak ordered the army to begin baking and distributing more bread and lifted tariffs on some food imports. Meanwhile, his prosecutors brought charges against some 150 people blamed for the unrest….

Egyptians buy government subsidized bread from a bakery in Cairo, ...
Egyptians buy government subsidized bread from a bakery in Cairo, Egypt Wednesday, April 16, 2008. Egypt’s government is struggling to contain a political crisis sparked by rising world food prices. Violent clashes have broken out at long lines for subsidized bread, and the president, worried about unrest, has ordered the army to step in to provide more.(AP Photo/Hossam Ali)

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 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/20/
AR2008042001752.html

Rice Grain Could Change Your Life by Badong
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Food Security: Global Emergency

April 21, 2008

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

Since last autumn, “food security” has moved from an issue many in the world never or hardly ever thought about to become the number one issue in life.

Food security involves having and sustaining the supply of proper food sources for entire nations and populations.

If there is any doubt that food security is a big issue, here is something of a recap of recent related news:

–The government of the Philippines said on Sunday that food security would be the number one topic in the legislative session starting Monday. The Philippines is a huge rice consumer and almost all of that rice is imported. Unfortunately, almost all of the rice supplies to the Philippines have been restricted or stopped. The result has been unrest in the streets of Manila and throughout the Philippines. Can you imagine arresting people who refuse to stop their protests because they are hungry?

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

A customer weighs rice at a sale-agent at the Voi market, 20 ...
A customer weighs rice at a sale-agent at the Voi market, 20 km (12.5 miles) south of Hanoi April 16, 2008. Fresh rice from Vietnam’s summer crop could start hitting the market a month earlier than usual, a top exporter said on Wednesday, bringing some relief to importers edgy over inflation and food security.REUTERS/Kham (VIETNAM)

–Egypt last week said 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, said. Meanwhile, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak ordered the army to start baking bread after deadly riots broke out in lines of people waiting for food.

–China this week is doubling taxes on fertilizer exports to ensure supplies for domestic farmers. China also announced that it will review land use issues nation wide. China’s government now says too much land has been turned over to industrialization and the nation of 1.3 billion people can no longer adequately feed itself without changes in policy and land use.

–Malaysia’s government said Saturday it would spend four billion ringgit (1.3 billion dollars) to increase food production and tackle price hikes as the country faces spiraling global oil and food costs.

–Last month the cost of food in Cambodia rose 24%. At this rate, the cost of food will almost double every four months. Yet pay is not rising at all: especially among the poor. Cambodia’s rural poor, who make up over 80 percent of the population, are particularly at risk from inflation.

–Cuba warned the World Trade Organization on Friday that the food security of developing countries is endangered for a variety of reasons, among them the rising cost of fuel.–Oil-rich Libya is discussing a deal to essentially rent a chunk of land-rich Ukraine on which it can grow its own wheat.

–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.

–France, sparked in part by unrest in Haiti, released $100 million (USD) in food aid to poorer nations.

A French farmer at work near Gaillargues. France will double ...
A French farmer at work near Gaillargues. France will double its food aid this year, spending 60 million euros (100 million dollars) as part of its response to the world crisis over soaring food prices, President Nicolas Sarkozy has announced.(AFP/File/Dominique Faget)

–France’s action followed a release of $200 million in food aid by President Bush exactly one week ago today.

“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.”

On Sunday United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, “The problem of global food prices could mean seven lost years … for the Millennium Development Goals.  We risk being set back to square one.”

While Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton pick at each other without much addressing American issues, in the rest of the world the big issue is quickly becoming: How will we feed ourselves?