Only a radical change of diet can halt looming food crises
Costs are high now, but rising oil prices will bring enormous problems for a world with appetites that it simply can’t sustain
This time last year it cost me about £7.50 a month to feed a pig on my small farm in Somerset; today it’s nearer £15. In a year, wheat prices have doubled, leading not only to increased bread prices, but also to demonstrations by pig farmers, who are going out of business as fast as you can fry bacon.
Almost all the food we eat – 95% – is oil-dependent, so as oil prices rise, the cost of food does too. Oil is central to fertilisers, mechanised production, transportation and packaging. However, between 1950 – when mechanisation and fertilisers transformed farming into agribusiness – and 1984, world grain production increased by 250%. The consequent cheapness of food kept inflation down and allowed for the postwar consumer boom.
[GlobeandMail] Biofuels are not only hurting poor consumers in Asia by driving up crop prices, they are also failing to help farmers who have not been able to adapt their production to cash in on the boom, a UN report said this week.
The UN report noted that the sector has the potential to lower oil prices as well as provide higher demand for farmers, but urged governments to « carefully consider the impact on the poor. »
The report calls for a « revolution » in the agriculture sector, saying that it could lift 218 million people living across the Asia-Pacific region out of poverty.
Urging attention on the sector that employs 60 per cent of the region’s workers, the report says that raising average agricultural labour productivity is needed. AFP
[ArabianBusiness] Rice prices across the Gulf could skyrocket after major rice exporters Vietnam and India indicated they plan to slash exports to combat domestic inflation.
Farmers fall prey to rice rustlers as price of staple crop rockets
Asian countries curb exports to avoid shortfalls as ‘perfect storm’ nearly doubles price in three months