If you’ve been keeping up with the papers you will be aware that we are in the midst of a mounting food crisis. The World Food Program calls it a “Silent Tsunami”. Many people have asked me if I have seen the affects….The outright answer is Yes! Food is costing more now than it did 4 months ago and everyone is bracing, hoping for good rains and sizeable crops.Background
The reasons why the food crisis is happening NOW is the result of several conditions culminating in a Perfect Storm. Poor harvests from last year have caused many countries to limit their exports lowering supply, rising oil prices are making it more expensive to move cargo, steep growth from China and India are increasing demand, and the US’s race to produce maize based ethanol are all contributing factors. What is most frustrating about this situation is that it could have been avoided if more time, and more effort were spent on helping countries reach food sovereignty.
Got Local Rice?
What I found amazed me: Huge quantities of rice from
As part of the exercise we were also sent out to learn about the local rice value chain. Only one “supermarket” sold high quality local rice that they processed themselves, the rest did not. Local rice was readily available in the market but not of the high-quality variety. Many people we spoke to said that they preferred the foreign rice as it was whiter and more modern. While most people admitted local rice tasted better and, the main barrier expressed to why they were not eating local rice was the stones that are often present due to the lack of high quality processing and that caused longer preparation time.
But what I found most surprising is that the high quality local rice cost the same as the foreign rice! Sarah Grant later informed me that the
Support President Bush!
So where to now?
National governments and international donors should:
Countries driving biofuel demand (e.g. the EU and US) must monitor the impacts of their policies on global food security and provide financial support for affected countries. Mandatory targets should be reassessed in terms of likely impact on emissions and negative social and environmental side effects in developing countries, including higher food prices, land grabs and labour rights abuses.
Developing countries need to integrate their biofuel strategies with food security policies to address issues such as land allocation and crop use.