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

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline 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.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid