THIS WEEK, OXFAM Ireland highlighted the potential for a global food crisis. The combination of droughts in west Africa and the US as well as the effect of biofuel production on food prices, among other factors, have led to a price hike of up to 50 per cent in world food staples prices since June.
Naturally, this rise – as noted in the United Nations FAO price index – is going to hit the poorest areas of the world hardest. The FAO index found that the international price of a basket of food commodities increased 6 per cent in July (this is after three months of a decline in price).
Countries and states reliant on very basic food staples are particularly vulnerable to price fluctuations – the global futures price of corn has increased by 45 per cent, soybeans by 30 per cent and wheat by 50 per cent since June, according to the World Bank.
Oxfam Ireland’s Chief Executive Jim Clarken said:
When food accounts for about 50 per cent of total household spending in many developing countries, the impact that this has on poverty rates is enormous.
The development of small-scale agriculture operations, in which smallholder farmers grow and keep their own food, is vital, he said.
These are some areas that are being particularly badly hit by the price pressure on food staples: