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6 countries where global food crisis is taking terrible toll

There has been an up to 50 per cent increase in the price of staple crops since June alone – these are just some places which are being hit the hardest.

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:

6 countries where global food crisis is taking terrible toll
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  • Cambodia

    An illustration of what your money buys today compared to one year ago. Rice prices in Cambodia have soared in the last year, increasing by 50 per cent in the last six months. They have tripled in the last two years. Image: Abbie Trayler-Smith/Oxfam
  • Yemen

    Yemen women receive Oxfam identity cards that entitle them to cash grants which will help families to buy food. Importing 90 per cent of its wheat, Yemen is particularly vulnerable to price shocks and 267,000 children there face death from malnutrition this year alone. Image: Caroline Gluck/Oxfam
  • Chad

    Adjitti Mahamat (40) cooks the one big meal a day (consisting of maize meal and a sauce containing the leaves of the eucalyptus tree) for as many as 10 children in Kassira Village, Guera province, Chad. In 2012, countries across West Africa are once again facing a serious food crisis. This ecologically fragile region is becoming increasingly vulnerable to continuing insufficient rainfall and fluctuating animal and food prices that are affecting millions of pastoralist and agro-pastoralists across this region. Andy Hall/Oxfam
  • Chad

    Standing outside their home in Andrabad village, northern Chad, with their supply of food for the forseeable future, are Etta Brahim Senussi (36, pictured right) and her children (L-R), Saleh Mahamad (7), Moussa Mahamed (5), Mohamed Ali (2) and Fatima Moussa (2). Her sister Fatima Senussi is pictured to the left, with neighbour Zeneba Louki. Image: Andy Hall/Oxfam
  • Mauritania

    Dja Abdullah has walked 300km with his cattle in search of fresh pasture. Each day he has to kill two of the cattle for food. Like others living in the West African Sahel region of Mauritania, his community is at risk of hunger due to the lack of rain and rising food prices. Image: Pablo Tosco/Oxfam
  • Burkina Faso

    On the move through the dry dusty landscape. Drought and decreasing water reserves has resulted in failed crops and lack of pasture in Burkina Faso, one of the countries affected in the West Africa food crisis. Image: Andy Hall/Oxfam
  • Bolivia

    A woman harvests corn in Bolivia, where high and volatile global food prices are likely to have a significant impact. Bolivians have been consuming more imported meat, sugar and oil. At the same time, a million hectares of the best arable land (i.e. a third of the country’s total) is now used for export-driven agro-industrial production, the most productive soil generally going to the highest bidder and not to ensure local food security. The large-scale food producers of Santa Cruz now supply 62% of Boliva’s rice, 43% of its wheat, 100% of its soy, 32% of its vegetables and 40% of its potato. Image: Alejandro Chaskielberg/ Oxfam

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