World Food Supply Causing Concern

World food supply is shrinking, UN agency warns.

In an "unforeseen and unprecedented" shift, the world food supply is dwindling rapidly and food prices are soaring to historic levels, the United Nations’ top food and agriculture official warns in a New York Times report.

Jacques Diouf, head of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, tells the Times that the changes create "a very serious risk that fewer people will be able to get food," particularly in the developing world.

The agency’s food price index rose by more than 40% this year, compared with 9% the year before — a rate that was already unacceptable, Diouf says. New figures show that the total cost of food imported by the neediest countries rose to $107, an increase of 25% in the last year.

At the same time, reserves of cereals are severely depleted, the agency’s records show. World wheat stores declined 11% this year to the lowest level since 1980. That corresponds with 12 weeks of the world’s total consumption, much less than the average of 18 weeks’ consumption, in storage during the 2000-05 period.

There are only 8 weeks of corn left, down from 11 weeks in the same five-year period.

Prices of wheat and oilseeds are at record highs, says Diouf. Wheat prices have risen by $130 a ton, or 52%, since a year ago. U.S. wheat futures broke $10 a bushel for the first time recently, a psychological milestone.

Diouf tells the Times that the crisis is a result of a confluence of recent supply and demand factors that are here to stay.

According to the New York Times report, on the supply side, the early effects of global warming have decreased crop yields in some crucial places. So has a shift away from farming for human consumption to crops for biofuels and cattle feed. Demand for grain is increasing as the world’s population grows and more is diverted to feed cattle as the population of upwardly mobile meat-eaters grows.

"We’re concerned that we are facing the perfect storm for the world’s hungry," says Josette Sheeran, executive director of the World Food Program. She adds that her agency’s food procurement costs had gone up 50% in the last 5 years and that some poor people were being "priced out of the food market."

To make matters worse, high oil prices have doubled shipping costs in the last year, putting stress on poor nations that need to import food and the humanitarian agencies that provide it.

Climate specialists say the poor’s vulnerability will only increase, the Times report states.

"If there’s a significant change in climate in one of our high production areas, if there is a disease that affects a major crop, we are in a very risky situation," says S. Mark Howden of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in Canberra, Australia. Already "unusual weather events," linked to climate change — like drought, floods and storms — have decreased production in important exporting countries like Australia and Ukraine, Diouf says. In southern Australia, a significant reduction in rainfall in the last few years led some farmers to sell their land and move to Tasmania, where water is more reliable, says Howden, one of the authors of a recent series of papers on climate change and the world food supply, published in the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"In the U.S., Australia, and Europe, there’s a very substantial capacity to adapt to the effects on food — with money, technology, research, and development. In the developing world, there isn’t," says Sheeran.

In the Times report, Diouf suggests that all countries and international agencies will have to "revisit" agricultural and aid policies they adopted "in a different economic environment." For example, with food and oil prices approaching records, it may not make sense to send food aid to poorer countries, but instead to focus on helping farmers grow food locally.

The food organization plans to start a new initiative that will offer farmers in poor countries vouchers that can be redeemed for seeds and fertilizer and will try to help them adapt to climate change.

(Source: New York Times)
 

Leave a Reply

Latest News
Industry NewsCompass Minerals Names Protassium+ Sales Director
June 28, 2016
Compass Minerals, the producer of Protassium+ sulfate of potash, has named Scott Johnson director of sales for Protassium+ North America. Read More
Eric SfiligojThe British Leave Vote Impact On EU Agriculture
June 27, 2016
Like virtually everyone else in the world this past week, I’ve watched the global reaction to Britain’s vote to exit Read More
Valent David Nothmann
Crop InputsValent Names David Nothmann Vice President Of Marketing
June 27, 2016
Valent U.S.A. Corp. has announced the appointment of David Nothmann as vice president of marketing. Nothmann will be responsible for Read More
The Andersons Waterloo
ManagementFirst Indiana Facility Certified Under 4R Nutrient Stew…
June 27, 2016
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced that The Andersons, Inc.’s Waterloo, IN, facility has been added to its Read More
CropLife 100BRANDT Contributes To Mayo Clinic
June 27, 2016
BRANDT, a leading agriculture retailer and manufacturer of specialty agriculture products, has pledged a sizable donation to the Mayo Clinic Read More
ManagementReport: U.S. Farmland Values On Average Continue Gradua…
June 27, 2016
Land price movement has been in the forefront for farmers, landowners, lenders and land brokers for a decade now during Read More
AdjuvantsPrecision Laboratories Introduces Intact Xtra For Use W…
June 27, 2016
Precision Laboratories announces the launch of Intact Xtra, an adjuvant designed for applicators who want to maximize spray applications and Read More
Key Cooperative’s new liquid fertilizer, crop chemical, and seed facility in Grinnell, IA stores 1.5 million gallons of liquid fertilizer and 120,000 gallons of crop chemicals.
Retail FacilitiesKey Cooperative Facility Features The Latest In Murray …
June 27, 2016
When Key Cooperative wanted to improve the overall efficiency at its new state-of-the-art facility in Grinnell, IA, it turned to Read More
Allen Summers Asmark Institute PSM Training
EmployeesAsmark Institute Sponsors 25 ResponsibleAg Auditor Trai…
June 21, 2016
The Asmark Institute has announced plans to provide 25 scholarships through their affiliated State fertilizer and agrichemical associations to help encourage Read More
Kennebec Elevator
CropLife 100Wheat Growers Celebrates Kennebec Elevator Grand Openin…
June 21, 2016
Over 250 patrons and guests were on hand to celebrate Wheat Growers’ Kennebec Elevator grand opening. South Dakota Secretary of Read More
Land O Lakes
Industry NewsLand O’Lakes To Acquire Ceres
June 20, 2016
Land O’ Lakes, Inc. and Ceres, Inc. have announced that they have signed a definitive merger agreement under which Land O’Lakes Read More
Food IT
Industry NewsCalifornia Event Will Mix Ag And Tech Professionals To …
June 20, 2016
Silicon Valley is hot on agriculture, and an upcoming event in California will bring together the food and tech industries Read More
LegislationVilsack Christens WinField Crop Adventure, Talks Monsan…
June 17, 2016
The WinField Crop Adventure grand opening ceremonies at Fair Oaks Farms (near Winemac, IN) welcomed USDA Secretary of Agriculture Tom Read More
Crop InputsFields of the Future: WinField Doubles Down with Agri-E…
June 16, 2016
Land O’Lakes, Inc., joined by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, today will host Fields of the Future, a live broadcast about Read More
Bayer sign
Crop InputsMonsanto Turns Back Bayer Again
June 14, 2016
Bayer AG’s bid to buy Monsanto Co. for more than $60 billion has hit an impasse that could pose a Read More
Young Corn Field
Crop NutritionNext Generation Of Nitrogen Efficiency Technology Conve…
June 13, 2016
Commodity price projections indicate farmers will continue to face tight margins again this year. Delivering higher yields and more bushels Read More
Industry NewsLa Crosse Seed Acquires Cover Crop Solutions Brand
June 10, 2016
La Crosse Seed announces that it is the new and exclusive owner of the entire family of brands of Cover Read More