News / Middle East

Higher Food Prices Loom in 2011

As 2010 ends, reserve supplies are tight

High food prices and alleged corruption sparked these opposition-driven protests in New Delhi in Dec. 2010.
High food prices and alleged corruption sparked these opposition-driven protests in New Delhi in Dec. 2010.

Multimedia

2010 ends with food prices on the rise in many parts of the world and reserve supplies tight. That has some experts nervous that another shock could return food prices to levels that triggered violence in 2008.

Riots

In 2008, riots broke out in at least a dozen countries as food prices hit record highs. By 2010, prices had come down as good weather brought bigger harvests. But this February, UN Food and Agriculture Organization chief Jacques
Diouf said the danger was not over.
 
"All the other factors that led to the price crisis are all here,” he said.  “They have not changed."
 

Diouf said biofuels still compete for food crops. One third of U.S. maize went to ethanol this year.
 
Energy prices

Energy prices remain high, which also affects the cost of food. And the world population keeps growing. He said that did not bode well for future food security.
 
"So, if we have - and I pray we don't have it - serious problems of flood and drought in major exporting countries, we're back to square one," said Diouf.

Drought
 
And in fact, drought in the Black Sea region cut Russia's wheat harvest by a third this year.

Drought in the Black Sea region cut Russia's wheat harvest by a third in 2010. A subsequent ban on wheat exports drove prices up.
Drought in the Black Sea region cut Russia's wheat harvest by a third in 2010. A subsequent ban on wheat exports drove prices up.

Moscow banned wheat exports, which scared the grain markets and made the situation worse.

"It is the drought that triggered the Russian ban,” says Shenggen Fan, head of the International Food Policy Research Institute. “And it's the Russian ban that triggered the price increase."
 
Prices vary from region to region, but on the global commodity markets wheat and maize have increased almost 50 percent over last year. And experts predict even higher prices next year.

Higher prices
 
Prices have not returned to where they were two years ago largely because grain stocks were bigger this year than in 2008. But that is no guarantee for coming years.
 
"I think we really need to take some urgent actions,” Fan says. “If we don't, I guarantee you we will have another crisis."
 
He believes countries need to invest in making their farmers more productive, because in the long run the world will need to feed more hungry people with less available land, water and other resources, and under a changing climate.
 
In the short run, markets are nervously watching dry weather in South America. Bad harvests there could push prices up further. And  a return to 2008's high prices is not inevitable.

"Certainly we're closer than we are comfortable with right now,” says economist John Anderson with the American Farm Bureau Federation, “but I think it's a little premature to say we're definitely due for a repeat of that magnitude."
 
Farmers have responded to high prices by planting more, which, barring more weather catastrophes, should eventually bring prices down.
 
According to Anderson, this is not the first time farmers have faced this challenge.
 
"We've had growing population and limited resources for the last 10,000 years. And we've managed to deal with that through innovation and improvement in our technology."
 
But Anderson says it will take time before those improvements impact market prices. In the meantime, he expects food prices to rise at least a little over the next several months.

You May Like

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid