Food is the foundation of human live and people cannot survive without it. Food security is a vital issue facing the governments around the world. However, food shortage is becoming increasingly severe in this day and age. There are several reasons which led to the universal food shortage and they are interconnected to each other. Increasing world population, extreme weather and the wide spread use of biofuels are the main causes of worldwide shortage of food. These factors lead to food price rises rapidly.
This essay will firstly discuss three major factors which have caused the world food crisis. Then it will examine how these factors affect the food price. Finally, it will suggest some solutions to tackle the food crisis. Global food crisis is being compounded by several causes such as growing population, extreme weather and famers switching out of cereals to grow agro-fuels crops. According to Vidal (2007), “There is no one cause but a lot of things are coming together to lead to this. It’s hard to separate out the factors. Global population is continuing growing nowadays; Eating habits are changed in many regions all over the world, especially in China and India; Extreme weather is caused by global climate anomaly which is related droughts and floods in many key production regions, such as a years-long drought in Australia; The wider use of agro-fuel led to divert food crops to grow biofuels crops; Agriculture costs are much higher, which are caused by soaring oil price, limited farmland and water. Global population growth is one of the most important causes of food shortage.
According to Gritzner and Charles (2010, 60), “By mid-century there will be some 9 billion people—an increase of 2 billion more people than today—eating at the global dining table. ” This means that demand for food will continue to increase over the coming decades. As rapid economic development and income growth among the middle class in developing countries, especially in densely populated countries of Asia, the demand of meat, dairy products and oils is experiencing rapid growth (Hojjat 2009, 421).
In other words, people can afford better food and change their eating habits to high quality and the variety of food. Producing these products requires more crops to feed livestock. To produce one kilogram of meat, cows need eight kilograms grain; pigs require five kilograms and chickens need three kilograms (McPherson 2008). The second cause which has sparked much debate is the diversion of food for fuels. Due to the oil price increased and global environment worsen, scientists from all over the world realised to develop new energies to replace fossil fuels.
Biofuels, which are made from crops, as a type of new energy sources are used widely in the United States, Europe, and many other countries. (Pereira 2008) However, it is a direct competition with the use of these crops for food. Take the United States for example, more than twenty percent of the crops were used to make biofuels in 2007. It is estimated that over a third of crops in the U. S. will be diverted to make biofuels over the next decade (Singh 2009, 26). Extreme weather is another major responsible factor which causes food shortage.
Global food production has been reduced by droughts, floods, and cyclones. Australia as a major wheat production country experienced a six-year-long drought (Vidal 2007). China, a self-sufficient country, started to import food from international market because of the unusual cold and snow weather during the winter in 2007 (Gritzner and Charles 2010, 62). A 2007 cyclone in Bangladesh destroyed approximately 600 million dollars worth of tis rice crop. (Lavelle and Garber 2008). Food price growth is due to the imbalance between demand and supply.
When agricultural production is rising slower than the increasing demand for food consumption, the food prices go up (Hojjat 2009, 421). On the demand side, global population growth puts a great deal of pressure on food demand. As income growth, consumers increase their intakes of higher quality food, such as fish, meat dairy products. The other side is supply side. Producing biofuels on a large scale reduces supply of particular crops significantly, which are used for food production.
Moreover, global food supply is directly influenced by bad weather. Besides, there are other reasons which cause food prices higher than before. Higher oil price raises food prices through increasing cost of farming transport and shipping; seeds and fertilizer prices growth increase food production costs as well. To overcome worldwide food crisis, effective measures should be carried out by governments, international organizations and individuals. Firstly, Agricultural productivity and production should be increased.
As Hojjat (2009, 424) notes: The future direction of world food prices will depend on whether research and development increase agricultural productivity faster than growth in world food demand. We need much greater investment in agriculture: poor countries need more funds for infrastructure, irrigation, seeding, and fertilizers, tractors, new technologies, rural credit to enhance productivity of the agriculture industry and reduce dependency on corn. Secondly, governments should stop all subsidies for the production of biofuels and encourage developing alternative source of energy (Lavelle and Garber 2008).
The United States and Europe, two main biofuels producers, need removal of policies promoting biofuels and increase investment in alternative energies research. Thirdly, international organizations such as United Nations agencies need to establish an international fund for emergencies, especially helping the developing countries to deal with the grain underproduction caused by extreme weather (Singh 2009, 30). Finally, individuals need to change eating habits and reduce food waste.
Nutritionists and environmentalists claim that the protein of plant is more healthful and environmentally friendly than livestock (Lavelle and Garber 2008). As this essay has outlined, global food crisis is becoming one of the most severe issues nowadays. Food crisis spread widely due to three main factors: increasing world population, extreme weather and widely used biofuels. These factors put pressures on international food markets which have contributed to the rapid food price increases during the past several years.
The governments, international organizations and individuals need work together to alleviate the high food price through increasing agricultural productivity and production, developing alternate source of energy, establishing an international fund and changing eating habits. It is a big challenge for human to make a more resilient, sustainable and equitable world’s food production and realize the global food security. References Gritzner and F, Charles. 2010. Global Connections: Feeding a Hungary World. New York: Chealsea House Publishing. Hojjat, T.
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