Following recent devastating crop losses in Russia and Pakistan due to climate-related drought, fires and floods, public awareness of the global food supply’s vulnerability has driven food commodity prices up. This has created tension and conflict that in some cases has resulted in deadly violence, as in Mozambique where protests were sparked when bread prices suddenly increased by 30%.
Meanwhile, Europe’s wheat prices are now 60% higher than in 2009, and Russia just announced the extension of a ban on wheat exports for another year due to the nation’s severe drought, inadequate harvest, and economic inflation.
Farmers there, for example, have experienced the driest season in 130 years, with experts having observed cracks in the soil so dry that no moisture can be reached without digging an entire meter into the ground.
This year’s drought has in fact already threatened next year’s harvest as farmers must plant now to reap a fruitful crop, but cannot do so without rain. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has responded to these concerns by calling a September 24 meeting to discuss how to best address this and potential future instabilities in food supplies.
Speaking of the current food situation, UN FAO Assistant Director-General for Economic and Social Development, Hafez Ghanem, warned that even though grain production overall this year is the third highest on record despite the recent crop failures, future supplies could be jeopardized by extreme weather events or further export bans, causing more global price volatility. Grain prices have also been affected by demands for meat, with livestock consuming more than one-third of global grain supplies during the 2008/2009 season.
We thank the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization for your efforts to help stabilize global food markets through a better understanding of the current situation and effective planning for the future.
Let us all work together to shift food policies in a wise and sustainable direction for the security of all people. During an August 2009 videoconference in Thailand, Supreme Master Ching Hai emphasized the most simple and effective remedy to this mounting global food shortage problem.