Monday, April 14, 2008


Farmers shifted to planting crops to support biofuels. Lands intended for food productions diminished in size while land converted to produce biofuels are remarkably increasing. Direct result of food shortage are now in the offing and violent protest and food riots are of imminent danger.


Decade ago, better incentives were provided to farmers in supporting biofuels. As a result, food shortage are beginning to be felt not only across Asia but the whole world as well, particularly, those wheat and rice consuming countries. As the food supplies are dwindling, prices are soaring to the level that an ordinary worker cannot afford to support the family needs for regular meal. Countries such as Egypt, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Mauritania, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Mexico, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Haiti are now experiencing unrest and on the verge of food rationing if no immediate international assistance are provided. In Haiti alone, hungry demonstrators resulted the ouster of their prime minister, killed a UN Police Peace Keeping Force, and left four civilians dead and several wounded.


How did the world leaders and the UN rice research center were caught unaware and unable to detect this impending food crisis upheaval? They are too busy with distorted priorities, like anthropogenic global warming. They rush to biofuels –cutting down rainforest and provide more lands for plant producing oil and ethanol than to crops to support food production- as an alternative to fossil fuels than to uphold food sufficiency and security as their main priority. In the Philippines, for example, biofuel law required five per cent bioethanol blend by volume in all diesel fuel instead of food securities; US will increase maize production to support 15 per cent of their cars using biofuels by 2017; and Europe’s target is 5.75% biofuel transport by 2010. All prioritized for energy supply than to avert food crisis. These basic undertakings are threatening to be the biggest problem of the century.


Haven’t they noticed the impacting factors of food shortage? The cost of oil unprecedentedly reached $111 per barrel and this will consequently affect food production. The global price of wheat rocketed to 130% in the past year. Rice zoomed to 74% in the same period and it even rose to 10% on just one day, based on report from the International Rice Research Institute. China’s rice and corn crops fell 10% over the past years; Australia’s wheat harvest diminished by 60%; UK wheat harvest is expected to go down by 10% this year; India planning to cut rice export to Bangladesh to support domestic consumptions; rice exporting countries are holding their rice, satisfying first their own needs; and most Asian countries complain of low food harvest. All these factors should have been counted as a glaring evidence of impending food crisis.


The world population consumed more foods that it can produce. Four decades from now, nine billion people will be eating more, more than the 6.6 billion world population we have now. The World Bank predicts that the global food demand will double 30 years from now. And where do we get the food to support the growing population when the trend now is to convert more land for biofuel production instead of farm foods? More paid media are advocating on carbon dioxide as man-made emission that caused global warming than to focus on food production campaign.


UN has to devise international plan for more food sufficiency. World financial institutions should be invited to engage in food crisis solutions. The tremendous social impact can be averted through concerted effort of the international community to produce more foods. As Jacques Diouf, director-general of UN Food and Agriculture Organization said: “Food riots in developing countries will spread unless world leaders take major steps to reduce prices for the poor.... The reality is that people are dying already in the riots.”


The world is threatened with social upheavals, should no solutions are at hand, this will be a repeat of the Great Depression of l929.

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