For the past few weeks, there has been more and more talk of food prices inflation – especially wheat (44%) and barley (which has doubled the price since June). Factors related to climate change – drought in Easter Europe, floods in Canada and Pakistan – and specific events – like the wildfires in Russia, give part of the explanation to the current situation. The other part however is due, according to numerous analysts, to the role of speculators who see in food, just one more way of making profits (see for example this interesting El País article – in Spanish).
Aerial view of the Pakistan floods. Photo: Horace Murray/Reuters (The Guardian)
The result of all this is a generalised increase in food prices, bot not yet a food crisis, acording to Financial Times analyst, Javier Blas. An increase that will lead – if the next harvest, which is expected to be good, does not help it – to inflation in developed countries, but could generate a much more serious situation in more vulnerable countries.
Precisely today, a report has been published that points out that an increase in food prices could lead to food shortages in various countries. The list of countries that are most at risk is topped by Afghanistan, followed by nine African countries, many of them affected also by violent conflict:
TEN EXTREME RISK COUNTRIES
2 Democratic Republic of Congo
Nothing new under the sun, then. All the alarm bells went off already in 2008, with the worse food crisis in 30 years. Then there was talk of creating durable political solutions that would prevent the situation from repeating. In between, the worse economic crisis in a century and lot of talk about “regulating markets”. Now, in mid 2010, food prices are increasing, and it is the same people facing hunger and the same ones that walk away with their pockets full.