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

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to enhancement or regression of democracy for Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents 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.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

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 Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein 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 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 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.

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