The prices of staple food-wheat, rice and maize- have swollen in the last few months, the world has produced more for everyone to eat and yet the world is faced with food crisis.
The trillion Leones question is why food crisis when staple food production has increased over the years.
Some will argue that food price hike is as a result of changes in climatic conditions due to globally warming. For me this argument would not hold simply because in 2007 record shows that 2.1 billion tons of grains were harvested which shows a 5% increment in food production.
It is however disheartened to know that from these harvests only 1.01 billion tons were used for human consumption, 760 million tons were used to feed animals and 100 million tons were used to produce bio-fuels.
World food crisis for me is man made. Why? The reason being that there is no longer free oil, fossil fuel prices are on the increase and the only option is bio-fuel and the west wants to make more money.
The doubling of oil prices from $60 in April 2007 to $120 in April 2008 has had it toll on food prices.
This has caused direct increase in the cost production, transportation and a growing demand for bio-fuel.
Also the decisions by the US and the EU to promote the use of bio-fuels through various tax and subsidy programmes has increased overall demand for some crops and reduced the amount available for food and this have ignited the skyrocketing food prices.
In 2007 one third of maize production was earmarked for ethanol production. Since US is the largest producer of maize, any changes in domestic incentives to switch production for food or fuel surely going to have a direct global impact.
There is however a risk that the high demand for ethanol will encourage large scale farmers globally to move from food production to sugar cane production to supply the ethanol industry, which will earn them more income than food production.
Although there is enough food for everyone, recent demand for cereals has outstripped supply- led by growing food demand in Asia and demand for bio-fuels, bringing global reserves to it lowest level in 25 years.
For me it seemed as if the King of Reggae, legendry Bob Marley’s prediction is his song ‘Rat Race’ has coming to past, when he says: “in the mist of water the fool is thirsty.”
By Ophaniel Gooding