98% of All Hungry People Live In The Third World

Human Wrongs Watch

High food prices are here to stay, and their impact on the poor in developing countries who spend a high proportion of their income on food can be devastating”

Street Child, Bangladesh | Wikimedia Commons

Their number exceeds one billion and up to 98% of them live in developing countries.

They are the hungry people who have to add to their sufferance the very fact that food prices continue to increase, with no hope that they decline, and the so-called developed countries international continue to dump millions of tons of fresh food in the sea, blindly obeying the ‘market lords’ diktat.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) did need to say this, but it did: food prices are literally a matter of life and death, especially for the poorest of the poor, who already spend anywhere from 80% to 90% of their income on food.

A Matter Of Life And Death

For them, a small increase in the price of bread or rice means the family goes hungry. Global food prices rose sharply in 2007-2008 and have remained high since. While prices are expected to ease somewhat, they will still average 20-30% higher in the next decade than over the past 10 years, says OECD which groups 34 industrialised countries.

This is a major global challenge. There were more than 800 million people going hungry in the world in 2007 before prices rose, and that spiralled to more than a billion in 2009 at the height of the crisis. International response was inadequate, and in some cases high food prices triggered social unrest as people who had managed to rise above the hunger line fell back below it, OECD adds.

But now see the latest news: “Higher food prices and volatility in commodity markets are here to stay”, OECD and FAO stated. What to do?

Third World Population Will Increase By 47%

“The key solution will be boosting investment in agriculture and rural development in developing countries, where 98% of the hungry people live today and where population is expected to increase by 47% over the next decades”, they say.

According to a new report by the OECD) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisations (FAO), “over the coming decade real prices for cereals could average as much as 20% higher and those for meats as much as 30% higher, compared to 2001-10.”

Higher prices for commodities are being passed through the food chain, leading to rising consumer price inflation in most countries. This raises concerns for economic stability and food security in some developing countries, with poor consumers most at risk of malnutrition, says OECD/FAO in their Agricultural Outlook 2011-2020, issues on June 17.

Devastating Impact

“While higher prices are generally good news for farmers, the impact on the poor in developing countries who spend a high proportion of their income on food can be devastating,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría.

“That is why we are calling on governments to improve information and transparency of both physical and financial markets, encourage investments that increase productivity in developing countries, remove production and trade distorting policies and assist the vulnerable to better manage risk and uncertainty.”

FAO former Director General Jacques Diouf said: “In the current market context, price volatility could remain a feature of agricultural markets, and coherent policies are required to both reduce volatility and limit its negative impacts.”

The key solution to the problem, according to Diouf, will be boosting investment in agriculture and reinforcing rural development in developing countries, where 98% of the hungry people live today and where population is expected to increase by 47% over the next decades.”

Focus On Small Farmers

Action should focus in particular on smallholders in low-income food-deficit countries, he added.

The Outlook reinforces the core messages for mitigating and managing price volatility in a recent inter-agency report to the G20, Price Volatility in Food and Agriculture Markets: Policy Responses, coordinated by FAO and OECD on behalf of ten International Organisations.

OECD And FAO To G-20: Stop Trade Distorting Policies

The report suggests, among other things, that G20 countries take steps to boost agricultural productivity in developing countries, reduce or eliminate trade-distorting policies and establish a new mechanism to improve information and transparency on agricultural production, consumption, stocks and trade.

The Outlook, which covers fisheries for the first time, sees global agricultural production growing more slowly over the next decade than in the past 10 years.

Farm output is expected to rise by 1.7% annually, compared to the 2.6% growth rate of the past decade. Despite this slower growth, production per capita is still projected to rise by 0.7% annually.

Per-capita food consumption will expand most rapidly in Eastern Europe, Asia and Latin America, where incomes are rising and populations growth is slowing. Meat, dairy products, vegetable oils and sugar should experience the highest demand increases, according to the report.

Global production in the fisheries sectors projected to increase by 1.3% annually to 2020. This is slower than growth over the previous decade, due to reduced or stagnant capture of wild fish stocks and lower growth rates in aquaculture, which underwent a rapid expansion over the 2001-2010 period.

By 2015, aquaculture is projected to surpass capture fisheries as the most important source of fish for human consumption, and by 2020 should represent about 45% of total fishery production, including non-food uses.





2011 Human Wrongs Watch

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