The food crisis will be the biggest crisis of the 21st century. It will push up food prices and spread hunger and poverty. Surging food prices will create inflation and create more crisis in the world. This will not only affect developing countries but also developed countries. According to United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), more than 73 million people in 78 countries who depend on food handouts are facing reduced rations this year.
High prices have caused food protests around the world like Mexico, India, Senegal, London, Mauritania and other parts of Africa. India, Mexico, Haiti, Philippines, Ethiopia, Indonesia and Yemen have seen food riots this year protesting the food crisis. Hardest hit of this crisis will likely be African countries, where many of the world’s poorest nations are here. A lack of food as the primary needs of humans will cause riots, suicide and millions of people could die from it.
Nearly every region of the world is experiencing drastic inflation caused by food this year. Retail prices are up 18% in China, 17% in Sri Lanka and 10% or more throughout Latin America and Russia.
In 3 May 2008, a cyclone devastated Myanmar’s low-lying Irrawaddy delta region leaving more than 1 million people homeless, according to the UN. An estimated 80,000 people died in the delta’s Labutta district alone. Myanmar had been expected to export 600,000 tons of rice this year, including to Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization. The cyclone flooded 5,000 square kilometers (1,930 square miles) of farmland. Cyclone Nargis struck the country’s main rice-growing area, worsening a food crisis that’s triggered unrest from Haiti to Egypt.
Why does it happen
Rocketing oil prices, global warming, biofuels, and the world population explosion are the cause of this food crisis. The primary driver is the soaring cost of oil, which reached $123 a barrel for the first time. Oil cost will make transportation more expensive, thus making food more expensive too. The price of oil has sent the cost of food imports skyrocketing this year.
The World Bank predicts global demand for food will double by 2030. This is partly because the world’s population is expected to grow by three billion by 2050. Food demand will also grow due to new prosperity in India and China.
Global warming will disrupt food production in many countries. It can cause climate instability which is bad for crop.
Food price are affected by accelerating demand for biofuels. Biofuels, made from food crops such as corn, sugar cane, and palm oil, are seen as easing the world’s dependence on gasoline. But when crude oil is expensive, these alternative energy sources can also be sold at higher price. Last year a quarter of the US maize crop was turned into ethanol to fuel vehicles. US supplies more than 60% of the world’s maize exports. According to the World Bank, this is putting pressure on countries’ food supplies.
The worldwide food reserves are at their lowest in 35 years. Demand is growing much more than supply.
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