Posts Tagged ‘food crisis’


Raj Patel’s New Food Project is Currently Raising Funds and You Can Help!

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By Molly Redfield

Generation Food is a project that will develop across a film, book, and multimedia platform. The project covers real efforts by numerous communities around the world in feeding themselves and building their own self-sustainable food systems.

Raj Patel and Steve James will travel the world documenting community food systems that work (Photo Credit: Bangor University)

Instead of focusing on what’s wrong with the current global food production and distribution system, Generation Food highlights solutions that have already proven effective and are well within reach. As a result, the project, according to its creators, hopes to help consumers, policy-makers, and farmers find ways to address the broken food system.

Renowned food author and expert Raj Patel and documentary filmmaker Steve James are raising money for their Generation Food Project. They are also spreading awareness of this initiative over Facebook, Twitter, and other social media.



“Living with the Trees of Life:” Innovative Solutions to Solve the Food Crisis

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By Katie Spoden

Dr. Roger Leakey, an expert in tropical agroforestry, recently published a new book titled, Living with the Trees of Life, Towards the Transformation of Tropical Agriculture. A mixture of personal narrative and scientific research, Living with the Trees of Life presents a roadmap of simple and inexpensive solutions to hunger and poverty. The world’s population will reach 9 billion by 2050; with 1 billion people currently malnourished and another billion overweight or obese, the global system of food production would benefit from solutions like the ones proposed by Dr. Leakey.

Living with the Trees of Life: Towards the Transformation of Tropical Agriculture, a book written by Dr. Roger Leakey, explores the evolution of agroforestry and the possibility to use trees to nourish the planet. (Photo credit: Centre for Environmental Living & Training)

In his book, Dr. Leakey explores a particularly promising innovation—agroforestry. Agroforestry consists of a wide range of practices that integrate trees in farming systems.

Agroforestry is already practiced around the globe. In the mountains of Costa Rica, trees are used as living fences. Live trees replace their dead wood counterparts to serve as shade for livestock and increase biodiversity. In the mountainous area between the Dominican Republic and Haiti, a nonprofit environmental organization began the Tree Bank to encourage local farmers to participate in conservation practices to restore native forests, while cultivating shade-grown coffee exclusively grown by farmers involved with the program. And in Jamaica, Trees That Feed is reforesting areas with trees that produce edible fruit, primarily breadfruit. Breadfruit trees provide both a nutritious potato-like product and provide economic opportunity through the production and sale of breadfruit flour.



Indian Food Policy: A Plentiful Harvest while Millions Starve

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By Keshia Pendigrast

According to a recent New York Times article, agriculture policy in India is shaped by two central goals: to achieve higher, more stable prices for farmers than they would normally achieve in an open market, and to distribute food to the poor at lower prices than is available from private stores. India ranks second in the world in agricultural output, and the sector employs 52 percent of the labor force. Yet one-fifth of its people are malnourished, double the rate of countries like Vietnam and China.

Sacks of rice that have suffered decay and weather damage. (Photo credit: New York Times)

India’s technical innovations and generous wheat subsidies have lead to massive success in the production of rice and wheat. According to a Reuters article, in 2011 Indian Food Minister K.V. Thomas said that wheat and rice exports would only cease after they had reached 2 million tons. August 2011 brought Indian wheat stocks over 35.87 million tons, substantially higher than its target of 17.1 million tons, set for the July-September quarter. Government warehouses were overwhelmed with over 25 million tons of rice.

But according to a World Bank study, only 41.4 percent of food stocks in warehouses reached Indian homes.

“It’s painful to watch,” said Gurdeep Singh, a farmer near Ranwan India, in an interview for the New York Times. Singh recently sold his wheat harvest to the government. “The government is big and powerful. It should be able to put up a shed to store this crop.”

“The reason we are facing this problem is our refusal to distribute the grain that we buy from farmers, to the people who need it,” said Biraj Patnaik, principal adviser to the Supreme Court on the right to food, in an interview for the New York times. “The only place that this grain deserves to be is in the stomachs of the people who are hungry.”



2007-2008 Food Crisis: Causes, Responses, and Lessons Learned

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By Jameson Spivack

The world food crisis of 2007-2008 caused a substantial rise in the cost of food, especially staple foods such as rice, wheat, and corn. This rise in price had a devastating effect on hungry people in the developing world.

When food prices rise, poor people in developing countries are hurt the most. (Image source: IFPRI)

Between 2005 and 2011, world prices for rice, wheat, and maize rose 102 percent, 115 percent, and 204 percent, respectively, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). With price increases, people with less disposable income must spend a larger percentage of their earnings on essential staple grains, and less on other food and non-food items. This can have a significant impact on nutrition.

In seven Latin American countries, this increase in price led to an average 8 percent decrease in the amount of calories consumed. Before the crisis, 35 percent of households in Ecuador received an adequate amount of calories; afterwards, only 22 percent were receiving healthy levels of calories. In developing countries, if prices rise 50 percent across the board, and there is no rise in income, iron intake will decrease by 30 percent, according to the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). In the Philippines, this 30 percent decrease in iron consumption would mean that only 5 percent of women have adequate levels of iron.



Three Perspectives on the Status of Global Food Security

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By Laura Reynolds

On April 20, the Heinrich Böll Foundation hosted a meeting and discussion entitled, “Addressing the Global Food Crisis: Assessing Progress Since 2007.” Three speakers, Timothy Wise from Tufts University’s Global Development and Environment Institute, Karen Hansen-Kuhn from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), and Neil Watkins from ActionAid USA, discussed whether on-the-ground progress has been made to provide greater food security around the world.

Agricultural development must focus on building the capacity of smallholder and women farmers. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

Timothy Wise presented the findings of his recent report, “Resolving the Food Crisis: Assessing Global Policy Reforms since 2007,” co-authored with Sophia Murphy of IATP.

“This is considered a new era in agriculture,” said Wise, citing that the prices of rice, corn, soybeans, and wheat in the next decade are projected to remain 50-100 percent higher than they were at the start of the 21st century.

In the four years since the crisis, some encouraging signs of progress in the food system have emerged. Multilateral organizations and funders, including the United Nations and the World Bank, have increased their commitment to agriculture and rural development. These organizations have recognized that smallholder farmers are important in today’s food system, and can play a key role in achieving regional food security. And policymakers, nongovernmental organizations, and donors have more fully acknowledged the world’s resource constraints, including limited and changing water supplies in many regions, and the role that climate change will have in agricultural development in the coming decades.



Resolving the Food Crisis

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The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and the Tufts University’s Global Development and Environment Institute have released a new report that highlights important policy reforms to resolve the food crisis that has been affecting people since 2007.

According to a new report, although there has been an upsurge in attention towards agricultural development, there is still room for more growth in investments. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

The report, Resolving the Food Crisis: Assessing Global Policy Reforms Since 2007, is based on a comprehensive assessment of the policies and actions taken since 2007 by four international groups of actors: the UN, the G-20, the World Bank, and international donors. Although there has been an upsurge in attention towards agricultural development, there is still room for more growth in investments. The report authors, Timothy A. Wise and Sophia Murphy, urge policymakers to pay attention to three key issues: reducing financial speculation on commodities markets, halting “land grabs,” and limiting the expansion of crops and land dedicated to biofuels.

Click here to read the full report.

To purchase State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet please click HERE. And to watch the one minute book trailer, click HERE.


All for one aim: Multi-pronged approach to fight hunger

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The volatility of food prices, in particular price upswings, represents a major threat to food security in developing countries and typically affects poor populations the hardest. According to the World Bank, during 2010–11 rising food costs pushed nearly 70 million people worldwide into extreme poverty.


This year’s theme for World Food Day is “Food Prices—from Crisis to Stability. (Photo credit: Julie Carney, Gardens for Health International)

World Food Day is a global event designed to increase awareness and understanding and to create year-round action to alleviate hunger. Since 1981, the event has been observed on October 16 in recognition of the founding of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), a specialized agency that was established in Quebec City, Canada, in 1945. This year’s World Food Day theme is “Food prices – crisis to stability,” with the purpose of shedding some light on this trend and what can be done to mitigate its impact on the most vulnerable.

Since the inception of World Food Day, organizations have taken advantage of the occasion to inform the public about what they can do to help end world hunger. Although the number of undernourished people worldwide has decreased since 2009, to nearly 1 billion, it is still unacceptably high. According to a recent FAO report, in Africa alone, nearly one-third of the population is undernourished and one child dies every six seconds because of the problem.

On October 16 of this year, countries, organizations, and communities are organizing events to educate and raise awareness, with the aim of addressing widespread problems in food supply and distribution systems. These events are raising money to support projects that focus on initiatives such as measures to ease population growth, boost incomes, and prepare farmers to protect their harvests against the negative effects of climate change, among others.



UN Calls for Urgent Aid as southern Somalia Suffers Famine

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By Dana Drugmand

The Horn of Africa is experiencing its worst drought in half a century, putting about 10 million people at risk for famine. The United Nations has already declared a famine in two regions of southern Somalia, and without immediate action the crisis is likely to get worse. “If we don’t act now, famine will spread to all eight regions of southern Somalia within two months, due to poor harvests and infectious disease outbreaks,” said Mark Bowden, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia.

Widespread drought, coupled with high malnutrition rates and internal conflict, has led to a famine in parts of southern Somalia. (Photo Credit: FAO)

According to Bowden, 3.7 million people in Somalia – nearly half the population – are currently in crisis. Malnutrition rates in this country are the highest in the world. Tens of thousands of Somalis have died in just the last few months due to causes related to malnutrition.

More than 100,000 Somalis have fled to refugee camps in Kenya to escape what aid workers are calling the worst food crisis since a famine in Ethiopia in the mid-1980s when 1 million people died.

The UN is appealing for urgent aid. According to Bowden, roughly $300 million is needed in the next two months to provide adequate assistance to famine-affected areas. “Every day of delay in assistance is literally a matter of life or death for children and their families in the famine-affected areas,” he said.



And Now for Something Completely Different; Big Powers Missing in Action on Food Price Crisis but New Leaders Emerge

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By Wayne Roberts

Wayne Roberts is a Canadian food policy analyst, speaker, and author of seven books, including Get A Life! (1995), and Real Food For A Change (1999). Roberts was chairperson for the Toronto-based Coalition for a Green Economy and served on the board of Food Secure Canada and the U.S.-based Community Food Security Coalition. He is currently serving on the board of Green Enterprise Toronto.

If freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose, then revolution could be just another word for nothing left to eat.

Small farmers need the support of the big powers if global food security is to be achieved. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

Nothing new in that, nor in the dreary estimates that about one billion people face an everyday reality of absolute hunger (lack of calories essential to basic functioning), while another two billion people endure chronic deprivation (lack of nutrients essential to health).

This reality of how the world’s other half lives commands special attention now for two game-changing reasons.

First, the numbers of both suffering groups are expected to rise as global food prices continue their record-breaking climb – up 15 percent over 2011, forcing an additional 44 million people onto the world hunger roll, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization. Second, political observers and strategists know that rising food prices propelled Arab Spring revolts, shaking up global geopolitics.

A bad case of elite jitters explains the recent spike in food and agriculture proclamations from high officialdom, including the World Bank.

Hunger and poverty have long rivaled climate change as subjects requiring solemn statements of concern from corporate and governmental powers-that-be. But now that hunger is linked to regime change from below, food ranks with oil, currency and debt as a topic requiring management by elite bodies that manage geopolitics. Food policy has arrived.

This June 22, the G20, the club of economic powerhouses that was established in 1999, held its first meeting of agriculture ministers – a guest list based on an obsolete presumption that ag ministers have anything to do with hunger, health or well-being. The ministers were called on to do something about food prices that were out of control.



Seminar hopes to encourage long-term pro-poor strategies as the G20 address food price volatility

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By Matt Styslinger

On June 22 and 23 the Group of Twenty (G20)—an economic forum made up of finance ministers and central bank governors from 20 major world economies—will hold a meeting of the ministers of agriculture of the G20 countries in Paris. Top on the agenda will be discussions on how to combat excessive commodity price volatility and address food security for the world’s poor. This comes in the wake of the 2007-08 world food crisis and recent food price spikes. These timely issues will also be a top priority in the G20 summit in Cannes in November to discuss financial markets and the world economy.

Agriculture ministers from G20 countries will meet in Paris June 22 and 23 to address excessive food price volatility. (Photo:

In a seminar to inform the agendas at the G20 meetings—held by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in Washington, D.C.—three leading expert panelists shared their perspectives on what was needed to address food price volatility. Charlotte Hebebrand, Chief Executive of the International Food & Agricultural Trade Policy Council (IPC), Peter Timmer, Professor Emeritus at Harvard University, and Rob Townsend, Senior Economist at the World Bank Agriculture and Rural Development Department, spoke about what the G20 meetings might accomplish to prevent recurring food crises. IFPRI’s Director General Shenggen Fan chaired the event, offering some of his own insights.

“My guess is we’re going to see some pretty sharp conflicts at the agriculture ministers meeting,” predicted Timmer. He said that this was in part because international-level action to control food markets does not resonate very well with agendas in Washington or in Toronto.