Caused in part by crop failures linked to various climate-related natural disasters along with fuel price increases, a global food price index monitored by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has surpassed a 2008 record high, with global corn prices up 52%, wheat up 49% and soy up 28% relative to 2010.
Rising food costs have already led to recent rallies and unrest in Morocco, Algeria, Jordan, Mozambique and Yemen. Officials caution that the situation is becoming dangerous, with climate change expected to decrease crop yields due to more extreme weather events. Following recent widespread and damaging floods in Australia, some food items have risen 20% in price in cities such as Sydney and Melbourne.
The FAO cautions that those who continue to be most at risk are in the developing world, where an average 70% of household income is spent on food.
Guriya Devi, Indian housewife: Lentils cost almost $1.5 a kilo, so do you think we can eat them? The price used to be 60 cents - we could buy them then, now we can't even think of it. What can we do with the income we have? Poor people like us are suffering.
Baiju, Indian taxi driver The price of lentils and rice has gone up so much that we've stopped eating lentils. Even potatoes have become expensive… Our family survives by eating just vegetables and rice.
In Kenya, the price of staples such as maize and beans have spiked, causing most of the northern Kenyan population to be at risk of starvation. The nation's Red Cross reported that these conditions come after crop failures in the three consecutive planting seasons, with young children, expectant mothers, and elderly suffering the worst impacts of malnutrition. International relief agencies have been trying to distribute emergency food supplies in the area.
Our thanks for the concerned alerts as well as the efforts of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the Kenyan Red Cross and others in addressing the challenging situation faced by people across the globe due to increasing food prices. May we step together in sustainable, climate-stabilizing actions to ensure worldwide sustenance, especially for the most vulnerable.
Supreme Master Ching Hai has often addressed concerns of high food prices and shortages while encouraging humanity's considerate participation toward alleviating these problems, as during an October 2009 videoconference in Indonesia.