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

    Video Russia's Expat Community Shrinking

    Russia's troubled economy, tensions with West have led hundreds of thousands of foreigners to leave for better opportunities

    Accelerating the Push Against Islamic State: What Will Work?

    Experts stress need to step up military action, address root causes of Muslims' disaffection, counter IS social media messages in a massive way

    Experts: N. Korean Abductions Sought to Halt Brain Drain

    Pyongyang abducted about 3,800 South Koreans and more than a dozen Japanese nationals in late 1970s

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.