It is hardly a revelation, but according to Jacques Diouf, the director of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), currently escalating food and energy prices could bring about political instability and riots in developing nations — a situation that is presently being played out in some African countries such as Niger, Burkina Faso, Guinea and in Yemen and Mexico.
Already, the FAO's food price index now stands at its highest levels since its records started in 1990 and has increased 70 percent since 2000. That is a troubling amount, considering that around 2 billion people worldwide live on less than $2 a day, with much of their income being spent on basic necessities such as food.
"If food prices continue to be high, there are risks of riots," Diouf cautioned on Wednesday, during a London meeting to talk with foreign office and aid officials. "If you combine the increase of the oil prices and the increase of food prices, then you have the elements of a very serious crisis in the future."The world's poor are the most vulnerable to price fluctuations in such commodities — in addition, many of the world's developing nations also depend on imports of crude oil, which is now trading at near record high prices. It seems that now, next to the rising need for food, even food aid is becoming too expensive to be any solution at all.
Soaring costs are being attributed to shrinking supplies, rising production costs due to higher energy prices, adverse and unpredictable weather (likely due to global warming), rapid economic growth (with its attendant problems of environmental exploitation and degradation) and a growing demand for biofuels.
In the short-term, Diouf said that the current situation is detrimental to the U.N.'s 2015 Millennium Development Goals to halve global poverty. However, he stated that if food output was bolstered along with investments to develop rural infrastructure for alternative energy, agriculture and water, it could help moderate the impacts of rising costs.
::The Star Online
See also ::Thousands in Mexico City Protest Rising Food Prices, IRIN: Food Security Africa, ::Averting "Livestock Meltdown": Biodiversity Key To Global Food Security, ::Agriculture for Development: World Development Report Gets It Half Right, ::Global Warming Could Cause World Crop Collapse, ::The True Price of Oil: Poverty and Death in Nigeria, ::Food Fight: Is Corn Food or Fuel?
Image: Food protests in Mexico, Art & Diamond Blog