News / Africa

Warning of Recurring Food Crises

Multimedia

Audio
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

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal 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.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid