News / Africa

Global Effort Needed to Solve World Food Supply Crisis

Mahata Onrao, a tea garden worker suffering from malnutrition, looks on while his wife Sukha Onrao attends to him at a rural health center in India (File Photo)
Mahata Onrao, a tea garden worker suffering from malnutrition, looks on while his wife Sukha Onrao attends to him at a rural health center in India (File Photo)

The world's food supply is in crisis says the international organization Oxfam and this week it's launched a campaign to fix it. There's some controversy over where exactly the problems lie.

Oxfam says 925 million people are going hungry around the world. In East Africa alone, it says, 8 million people are facing chronic food shortages.

Gawain Kripke, director of policy and research at Oxfam America, told VOA that if things continue as they are now, the problem will only deepen.

"The crisis on the horizon is that food prices could more than double in the next twenty years, which could send those numbers of hungry people much higher," said Kripke.

The world’s population is on the rise. Experts guess that by 2050 the total will be 9 billion. What’s more, as people around the world are getting richer, diets are changing. Meats and dairies are increasingly in demand - foods that take up more agricultural land and resources.

According to Oxfam, food pressures will go up by 70 percent over the next four decades.

But, it says, the world’s capacity to produce food is declining. The average growth rate in agricultural yields, it says, has almost halved since 1990 and to make matters worse, food crops are now being diverted to create biofuels.

It’s a bad situation, Kripke says, but not one without solutions.

He says right now only a handful of big businesses control the food market. He says a new focus on small scale farmers would solve a lot of problems.

"We think that the growth potential and productivity increase from investing in very small producers is very high," added Kripke. "And you can increase both food production but also, very importantly, help the people that most need assistance and who are most vulnerable to the vulnerabilities of high food prices and climate change at the same time."

Heidi Chow, is from the World Development Movement, a campaign group based in Britain.

She has another solution. A big part of the food crises, she says, lies with the markets.

She says food prices are volatile because trading in agricultural futures has become a big money earner for market traders.

And, as with the housing market, she says it’s not a reliable way to make sure prices reflect supply and demand.

"What we have been seeing over the last few years are extreme hikes and extreme dips as well," said Chow. "So even though there are other factors going on here, speculation amplifies and exacerbates these real world changes, making prices much higher than they ought to be."

She says in the United States and in Europe legislation is being reviewed that could see more regulation in the trading of agricultural futures. That’s key, she says, but it will be an upward struggle.

"There's very strong vested interest from the financial lobby to stop this from happening because if they are limited in their ability to speculate on these food prices then that would be limiting their ability to make money from it," she said. "So there is definitely a strong lobby in the U.S. as there is in Brussels to stop this from happening."

Kate Bailey is a food expert at Britain’s Cardiff Business School. In her opinion the effects of the market are only limited and don’t relate to the longtime food crisis that’s been developing over many years.

She says in order for the food crisis to be resolved, a global political effort will be needed.

"There are sort of political elements. Looking at trade, things like export bans - for example, when Russia put in wheat export bans, that restricts the market even further, which exacerbates the whole problem and puts the prices up," said Bailey. "So it's more about coordinated effort, to say there are various solutions but they need to be coordinated globally."

According to Oxfam there are 500 million small scale farms in developing countries. The group says it’s with them that future investment should lie.

You May Like

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory 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.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid