News / Africa

Warning of Recurring Food Crises

Multimedia

Audio
TEXT SIZE - +
Joe DeCapua

Soaring and volatile food prices have experts warning of recurring food crises, putting poor people – especially women and children – at risk.

Similar conditions existed during the 2007/2008 food crisis, when high prices and shortages ignited unrest in many countries around the world.

IFPRI, the International Food Policy Research Institute, is calling for urgent action to prevent a repeat of the crisis. Director-General Shenggen Fen says, “Many food items have become more expensive…since last May or June. Wheat prices have almost doubled. The maize price has also increased substantially. Many meat products, dairy products have also increased substantially.”

While the situation is not as serious as the food crisis three years ago, Fen says, “If we don’t take urgent actions, food prices will continue to rise and the poor people will suffer.”

What’s triggering the price hikes?

After the last crisis, IFPRI analyzed a number of factors that contributed to the problem.

Shenggen Fen, IFPRI Director General
Shenggen Fen, IFPRI Director General

“For example,” says Fen, “the expansion of bio-fuel production, the rising oil prices, the bad weather and also reduced agricultural investment. So we analyzed all these factors and today, surprisingly – maybe not surprisingly – many factors are similar…. So my question is, have we learned a lesson?”

Recommendations

IFPRI has issued a number of recommendations it says could help prevent recurring food crises. One calls for “effective policies and technology investments to minimize food-fuel competition.”

Fen says, “The higher energy prices will increase food prices through two channels. First is the production costs will increase – 20 percent, 30 percent of the food production cost is coming from energy. The second [is] the continued rise of oil prices will expand the bio-fuel production. So the bio-fuel production will definitely compete with poor peoples’ food.”

New bio-fuel production technology is available that is not in direct competition with food production. It uses waste instead of food to generate energy.

IFPRI also calls for “social safety nets” for vulnerable groups. When food prices soar, most of what little income poor people earn goes towards food.

“They need special protection, particularly women and children. In some of the countries some of the protection system is already there. So what we need to do is to scale up the social protection to make sure the…poor…will be covered…. For the countries that do not have this system, they need to think how to institutionalize or how to build a system that can help the poor in the short run.”

In the long run, IFPRI recommends countries invest more in agriculture, especially smallholder farms.

Grain reserves

Another recommendation would establish a “global emergency physical grain reserve.” Grain would be stored in strategic regions, such as the Horn of Africa.

“In the meantime, some of the large producing countries, like China, Brazil, the U.S. [and] Canada, can also…donate some of their grains from their own stock,” he says. The grains would be stored by such organizations as the U.N. World Food Program for emergency use.

Other recommendations include more investment in climate change adaptation and a working group to “regularly monitor the world food situation and trigger action to prevent excessive price volatility.”

Risks

If the recommendations are not followed, Fen says, “Food prices will continue to rise. I’m afraid that more poor people will suffer from hunger, from malnutrition. And this is the situation we do not want to see.”

You May Like

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid