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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

US Urges Restraint in Hong Kong Protests

Protesters angered by Beijing's decision to only approve candidates that it sanctions for Hong Kong's leadership elections in 2017 More

Archive of Forgotten UCLA Speeches Offers Snapshot of History

Recordings of prominent voices in social change, politics, science and literature from 1960s, early 1970s now available on YouTube 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.
Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenyai
X
Gabe Joselow
September 29, 2014 6:20 PM
Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Video

Video Reconstruction? What Reconstruction? Life After War in Gaza

It’s been a month since Israel and the Palestinians agreed to a ceasefire to end 52 days of an air and tank war that left 60,000 homes in Gaza damaged or destroyed and 110,000 homeless. Sharon Behn reports that lack of reconstruction is leading to despair.
Video

Video US, Saudi Arabia and UAE Hit Islamic State's Oil Revenue

The United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have bombed oil facilities operated by Islamic State militants in Syria. It was a truly collaborative effort, with the two Arab countries dropping the majority of the bombs. The 12 refineries targeted were estimated to generate as much as $2 million per day for the terrorist group. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb has the story.
Video

Video Russia's Food Sanctions Raise Price Worries, Hopes for Domestic Production

Russia retaliated against Western sanctions imposed for its actions in Ukraine by halting food imports from the West. The temporary import ban on food from Australia, the European Union, Norway and North America has Russian consumers concerned that they could face a sharp increase in food prices. But in an ironic twist, the restrictions aimed at the Kremlin have made Russia's domestic food producers hopeful this can boost their business. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid