Oil and Food Costs

13 Apr

A side effect of the rising price of fuel is the increase in the cost of food staples around the world, especially rice.

A recent AFP article quoted Kevin Cleaver (an assistant president in a department of the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development):

“in some 33 countries there is now civil disturbance, food riots caused by food shortages and higher prices”

Even if we ignore the effect that climate change could have on food production, it seems that the world will have some major problems in the coming years as the high cost of oil will continue to put pressure on food production costs.

Looking around the world this week – there seems to be a stream of stories about rice. Here are just two such stories.

Philippines
The price of a kilo of rice has now hit P20 in a country where some poor families only have an income of P120 per day. The National Food Authority is going to be distributing more than 15000 bags of rice to the poor families in 12 of the countries high population areas.

Haiti
Recent riots over the cost of food have prompted the government to bring the price of rice down by 15 percent. Haiti used to be self-sufficient in rice production, but that changed in the mid 1980 with trade liberalisation, where cheap (and subsidised) US rice has led to a collapse of the local rice production industry. Now that the cost of oil is increasing, the cost of imported rice is also increasing – leading to the recent riots over the cost of food.

Two countries on different sides of the world suffering from the same problem.

And it appears that countries such as India, Vietnam, Argentina and China will cut exports to protect their own people.

The cost of food production threatens us all, and may well be the biggest threat mankind faces in the coming years.

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2 Responses to “Oil and Food Costs”

  1. Rixaeton April 13, 2008 at 2:09 pm #

    I am sorry to hear that food crisis are hitting already. I am afraid it is going to get worse before it gets better, as the effects of greenhouse gas emissions have a few years in the pipeline before they reduce. I can imagine only too well what will happen when the central asian glaciers reduce to the point where water will be scarce for millions of people from China to Vietnam.

    My wife says she doesn’t want to go through that again, having migrated from Vietnam after the war. Her father has been giving tips on what to do when there are food riots 😦

    Unless there is worldwide desire for solving the climate change problem, which targets all emissions, things will get worse before they get better.

    I hope that things will turn out for the best. Take care.

  2. joke April 14, 2008 at 5:33 pm #

    dr money put it quite well in tnp today . no solutions, it is the end of the golden age. but he forget to add that this tiny red dot multi millionaire ministers were partly or mostly responsible for the wars and global depletion of food/resources by exporting their ‘success and prosperity ideology’ in this region especially.

    well, the CONSUMING locusts have landed and invaded and continue to invade!!!

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