Neev M. Arnell
June 9, 2011
The average price of staple foods will more than double in the next 20 years, Oxfam warns. The world is entering an era of permanent food crisis, which is likely to be accompanied by political unrest, and the situation will lead to an unprecedented reversal in human development, it said. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/environme…)
International prices of staples such as maize could rise by as much as 180 percent by 2030, according to research published last week.
The Oxfam report comes following the UN warning in May that food prices are likely to hit new highs in the next few weeks, triggering riots and unrest in developing countries.
The number of hungry people globally is increasing rapidly as food production lags behind demand. This comes following decades of steady decline in global hunger rates.
“The high-price situation is not something that’s just going to vanish over one season,” Abdolreza Abbassian, a senior economist at the Rome-based United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, said in an interview before the index was released. “The fundamentals are still what they are, a very tight situation for almost all commodities.”
The average global price of cereals jumped by 71 percent in April. Milk futures climbed by 0.8 percent in Chicago in May, while corn more than doubled in the past 12 months on speculation that more planting in the U.S., the world’s largest grower, will not be able to replenish global stocks. Also, wheat shot up by 72 percent due to crops ruined by flooding in Canada and Australia and reduced harvests due to drought in Russia and Europe.
The World Bank warned last June that 44 million people have now fallen below the poverty line due to rising food prices. And a combination of factors have set the stage for an increase in deep poverty, including depleting natural resources, a global scramble for land and water, the rush to turn food into biofuels, a growing global population, climate change and changing diets.
“We are sleepwalking towards an age of avoidable crisis,” Oxfam’s chief executive, Barbara Stocking, said. “One in seven people on the planet go hungry every day despite the fact that the world is capable of feeding everyone. The food system must be overhauled.”
Oxfam called on the Britain’s prime minister, David Cameron, and other leaders to agree to new rules governing food markets.
Oxfam wants greater regulation of commodities markets to contain volatility in prices and an urgent increase in global food reserves, including by ending the biofuels policies of western governments that divert food to fuel for cars. The agency also attacked excessive corporate concentration in the food sector, particularly in grain trading and in seed and agrochemicals.
This article was posted: Thursday, June 9, 2011 at 4:35 am