Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Hunger to Become Key Issue in Global Politics
The prices of wheat and other agricultural commodities have risen yet again, following the already significant price increases of 2007 and 2008. According to the Humboldt Forum for Food and Agriculture, these are the early indicators of a latent food crisis, which will hit the world within the next ten years.
"If no decisive action is taken, the prices of key food commodities are likely to be 50 to 100 per cent higher by 2020 than they were at the turn of the millennium. This would dramatically increase the level of hunger and malnutrition, around the world," says Harald von Witzke, president of the Humboldt Forum for Food and Agriculture, an international think tank, headquartered in Berlin, Germany.
Over one billion humans are already malnourished. Every day, 16,000 children die as a result of malnutrition. Even a moderate increase in the price of food would significantly worsen the nutritional status of the poor, who typically have just $1.25 per day or less in purchasing power, with approximately 75 percent of that dedicated to food. This serious situation is set to worsen dramatically as our food needs look set to double in the first half of the 21st century.
According to von Witzke, sustained high food prices would not only lead to food riots, as they did in 2007 and 2008. They also have the potential to significantly increase international migration away from food insecure countries with agriculture becoming a key industry. "The world is running out of time. Both the poor countries and international development assistance have to take swift and decisive action. The neglect of agriculture must end."
Von Witzke's recommendations include investing in agricultural infrastructure and education, and making mineral fertilizer, cropping protection and modern seed varieties available to farmers in poor countries.